Dwayne De Rosario, D.C. United (Aug. 24, 2013)

DC United players express fondness for ex-teammate Dwayne De Rosario: "He was a great leader"

WASHINGTON – It was clear to everyone involved in D.C. United’s tumultuous 2013 campaign that changes were afoot not long after the season came to a close with a loss to the Houston Dynamo.

And just four days later, the club declined their option on Dwayne De Rosario, the team captain and one of the league’s more decorated players. De Rosario’s departure soon became the face of the impending rebuilding project underway in D.C.

And despite expressing a desire to return for another year in front of his locker at RFK Stadium after that Houston loss on Oct. 27, which marked a season with the fewest wins for a club in MLS history while also winning the U.S. Open Cup championship, De Rosario was ultimately not part of the club’s vision for the future.

This year, a 35-year-old De Rosario was in and out of the starting lineup and generated three goals (tied for the team lead) and two assists in 23 games (17 starts). He did, however, score five goals in five Open Cup matches.

Despite his lack of production in 2013, the move wasn’t an easy one to digest for many of United’s players.

“He was definitely a big part of this team and a great guy to have on your team, a great guy in the locker room and definitely a guy I looked up to,” said midfielder Perry Kitchen during the team’s final media availability of 2013. “It’s part of the business, and I personally wish him the best.”

In 68 career games with United, the Canadian international scored 23 goals and assisted on 21, while earning league MVP and Golden Boot honors in 2011.

“To see DeRo go is tough,” said United Homegrown goalkeeper Bill Hamid. “He was a great leader. He was a great motivator and he was a great footballer. What he brought to the table was magnificent. Losing a player like that hurts, but we have faith moving into next year in the guys that were behind him and the guys they bring in will be capable of getting the job done.”

In addition to De Rosario, United declined options on Lionard Pajoy, Carlos Ruiz, Marcelo Saragosa and Syamsir Alam. More moves, especially new faces joining the mix, are expected.

“It’s sad to see a lot of the guys leave, but hopefully we’ll see some new guys come in, too,” said midfielder Jared Jeffrey, who will be back next season.

When asked who, without De Rosario around, is the new leader of the team, Kitchen’s response was open ended.

“We have plenty of leaders on this team,” he said. “Guys lead in different ways and the coaches will put who they want to be in the leadership role next year. We’re just worried about performing. We know it has to be better, whether it’s new guys coming on board or whatnot, we’ll all be ready.”

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