De Rosario setting bar high

IGOR HENRIQUES, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 12:22 PM ET

TORONTO -- With a penchant for highlight-reel goals and one of the most unique goal celebrations in the game, it's quite easy to see why Dwayne De Rosario has become such a household name in Major League Soccer. The Canadian's transformation into one of the league's best players, however, did have some winding turns along the path that has been his career.

At 19, De Rosario began his professional career playing for the Toronto Lynx in the A-League where his strong performances made club teams overseas take notice. After seeing limited time with German outfit FSV Zwickau, a return to North America was in the cards, one that would prove fruitful to both De Rosario and the MLS.

The sleek-footed winger began his time in the MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2001 and made his mark in his very first season capturing MLS Cup MVP honors thanks to a game-winning goal in the MLS final. De Rosario blossomed in San Jose over the next few seasons, despite missing a large part of the 2003 campaign with a torn ACL.

In 2004, a fully recovered De Rosario led the Earthquakes to a second MLS Cup victory along with winning the Goal of the Year Award. While his championship accolades are impressive to behold, perhaps his biggest impact has come outside club play.

With the MLS desperately hoping to broaden its appeal, the concept of the all- star game pitting the best the MLS has to offer against a first division club from one of the major leagues began to take shape. While English side Fulham was a competent opponent in 2005, the true opportunity for MLS players to send a message on the world stage came in 2006.

Toyota Park in Chicago hosted the match-up between English League Champion Chelsea and the best the MLS had to offer. The game was fiercely contested, with De Rosario coming through in the 70th minute with a blistering shot that would prove the difference in the 1-0 encounter. The result was stunning and sent shockwaves throughout the soccer world - but for De Rosario, it was just another notch on the belt of one of the great clutch performers in MLS history.

De Rosario would prove the difference in the 2008 version as well, scoring the winning goal against English opponents West Ham United at BMO Field in Toronto. Coincidentally, the Dynamo star was shipped off to his hometown team, the Toronto FC later on that year.

The impact that De Rosario has had on the sport in Canada cannot be overlooked. His performances for both the Canadian National team and Toronto FC have been remarkable, with his flamboyance often coming to the forefront. With the ability to shoot accurately from long range along with above average technical ability, the Canadian star has become both the face of soccer in his country and the FC.

While his achievements at the national team level with Canada are scarce, the ability of De Rosario has never been questioned and he along with fellow Toronto FC member Julian De Guzman are usually the lone bright spots on a team that lacks cohesion and top-level talent at several positions. With the 2000 Gold Cup triumph being Canada's last major tournament win internationally, De Rosario is unlikely to win any such accolades with the current crop of Canadian team members, and will thus go his entire career without leading any team accomplishments at the international level.

However, the three-time Canadian player of the year has set the bar high both for incoming MLS players and those in the youth ranks trying to live up to his standards. At age 32, he has very little left to achieve at the club level but in a city starved for a winning franchise, the possibility of De Rosario leading the Toronto FC to a MLS championship would be a fitting end to a career already full of highlights.


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