TORONTO – The season may have ended in similar fashion, but Toronto FC is nonetheless a club reborn as far as veteran Dwayne De Rosario is concerned.
The Canadian international and MLS legend has played for Toronto FC under two different management staffs, and during the team’s locker room clear-out nearly a month ago, De Rosario said he felt the club is “completely different” than the one he left back in 2010, despite also failing to make the postseason.
“There’s been a lot of things handled in the right way, in the right manner and I think the club is really starting to narrow down an identity, a style of play,” De Rosario said. “When you come through this door, you come through this building at TFC and you see a certain attitude. In that respect, a lot has changed. Actually being here and seeing it first hand, the off-the-field stuff is pretty positive.”
De Rosario signed with Toronto FC for a second time at the start of 2014 after being released from D.C. United, joining up with another former D.C. alumnus, Ryan Nelsen, the head coach of Toronto at the time. The TFC forward felt he could have contributed more to the Toronto cause in the early parts of the season and before the firing of Nelsen, who awarded De Rosario only three starts and eight sub appearances in 24 league matches.
“I don’t think my experience in this league was utilized to the best of my ability,” De Rosario said. “I don’t think I really had a fair go when [Nelsen] was coach and that was disappointing, whether it was off the field, or being a leader and communicating. In that respect, that was very disappointing.”
Under new boss Greg Vanney, De Rosario has seen more positive changes. He saw more playing time, making eight consecutive appearances in those final 10 matches and scoring a key goal to give Toronto a point on the road in Chicago (WATCH IT HERE).
“A lot of things, I think, are different,” De Rosario said. “Greg [Vanney] has a different approach; he’s definitely more about managing the team a lot more than I think Nelsen – and I’m not going to sit here and have a go at Nelsen, he brought a lot of positives to the team as well – but we’re in a results business at the end of the day so if you’re not getting the results, something has to give.
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"Unfortunately it was the coaching staff, but the new coaching staff that came on board definitely took the right approach.”
That right approach started on the practice field, where De Rosario said every session was intense and a clear vision for how the team would play was laid out. De Rosario enjoyed that so much in fact that he is hoping to work with Vanney again in 2015.
“I hopefully plan on being here next year,” he said. “I came here stating that there was some unfinished business that I want to do. I feel like I’m still holding onto those words. The day that our team gets the success that we all want, whether it’s media, fans, players or coaches, I definitely want to have a hand in that success.”
Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.