Gimme De-Ro over Becks

STEVEN SANDOR -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

There are those celebrity-watchers who have David Beckham's visit in August as the can't-miss game of the year. But for the soccer fan, tonight's home date against the Houston Dynamo is the game of the MLS season.

Not only is Houston the defending MLS champion, the franchise has won three of the last six titles, including its previous incarnation as the San Jose Earthquakes. The GTA's own Dwayne De Rosario is the best Canadian in the league, and keeper Pat Onstad has been a longtime netminder for the Canadian national team.

Toronto FC is looking forward to the test.

"It's a great honour," said TFC striker Andrea Lombardo, who came in and played the final 20 minutes of Saturday's 3-1 win over Chicago and set up Maurice Edu's goal. "Dwayne is a great player, a proven player in this league. He's been an inspiration to all Canadians in the MLS."

With Danny Dichio suspended for tonight's game, coach Mo Johnston said he may lean to playing Lombardo again, even though the teen also played 90 minutes Friday in Canada's U20 loss to Argentina. That could set up a fascinating contest between De-Ro and the 19-year-old who is likely to eventually unseat him on the national team.

De Rosario's honour roll is long; in both 2004 and 2005, he won the MLS Goal of the Year Award. He was the MVP of 2001 MLS Cup final. His penalty shootout goal clinched the 2006 title. He was named the MVP of last year's all-star game.

Onstad has twice won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award. And maybe five of you out there watched him play for the Toronto Lynx before he went to the MLS. Heck, I used to watch Pat with the Edmonton Drillers. Talk about going back in time.

Jim Brennan, who has played with both Dynamo stars on the national team, agreed Houston will present a test.

"We have worked hard for the last two weeks to get to where we are now and we have to keep improving if we want to have success when we play Houston," he said. "We have to keep playing and working hard and be even better."

So, to the Red Patch Boys and U-Sector and all the supporters clubs, take a sec during the warmup to give De-Ro and Onstad a round of applause for all they've done for Canada. Then, give 'em hell the rest of the way. After all, this game is going to be so much more interesting than when Mr. Spice Girl comes to town.

24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card will appear every Wednesday in 24 hours. steven.sandor@tor.sunpub.com


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