Primed and proud

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

It isn't quite like the Biblical tale of the prodigal son, but yesterday's return to Toronto by midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and goalkeeper Pat Onstad in preparation for the Houston Dynamo's Major League Soccer match with Toronto FC has been a long time coming.

Judged by many as one of a handful of world-class players to come out of the playgrounds of Ontario, De Rosario is a bona-fide star in the MLS, where he has twice been runner-up for MVP honours.

And Onstad, originally from Vancouver, has become a money goalkeeper for a championship squad who got his professional start playing for both the Toronto Lynx and Rockets.

Both players yesterday were in awe of the BMO Field where an expected 20,000 TFC fans will arrive tonight in hopes of witnessing a second win by the expansion franchise.

"It's been a long time since I've had a chance to play on Canadian soil," Onstad said. "It's going to be a big game for me. I'll have friends and family coming in (from Vancouver) for sure. I can't believe after 20 years of playing professionally I am this nervous before a game."

De Rosario, who celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday, said he has been excited about the prospect of playing at home since he first got a look at the schedule.

"It's huge and a great opportunity for me," De Rosario said. "I haven't played in my hometown in a long time, and I anticipate a great atmosphere. There are a lot of passionate fans in Toronto, and it is a great chance to showcase ourselves as the champions of MLS."

Asked if maybe he had a twinge of regret at not being part of Toronto's first MLS team, De Rosario said it was easy for him to separate the sentimentality of playing for the home team from getting a chance to play for a team like Dynamo.

"Would you give up a chance to play for a championship side just to come home? For me maybe later in my career I would consider playing for TFC."

De Rosario and Onstad said they had watched Saturday's 3-1 win by TFC against Chicago on television and came away impressed with both the fans and the team coach Mo Johnston has put together.

"We know it's going to be a hostile atmosphere," Onstad said. "The team is fired up after the Chicago game and Mo has put together a solid side."

De Rosario, who has a pair of goals for the 2-2-1 Dynamo this season, said he wants to experience the fan reaction to big-time soccer in Toronto.

"I think Toronto fans have been looking forward to the day they would get this level of soccer and now it's here," he said.

"I'm happy to play in front of a crowd like I saw on TV. I think it will be a great game."


Videos

Photos