TORONTO - Cloudy days look to be ahead for Toronto FC and its star midfielder, Dwayne De Rosario.
After a rocky off-season that included an alleged unauthorized loan to Scottish club Celtic and a public contract spat that has De Ro demanding more cash, things donít seem to be settling down between the two sides heading into the 2011 campaign.
The Redsí all-time leading scorer has made it clear that he wants some amendments made to his contract in the way of guarantees, citing the risks involved if he goes down injured.
De Rosario, who is on the books for roughly $500,000 this season, has gone public with the fact he is looking for a long-term commitment from the club, but according to De Ro the Reds arenít budging.
ďItís just a very frustrating process,Ē De Rosario said. ďI have to try to focus on just playing and forget about all the promises and empty promises and things said that (havenít) fulfilled themselves yet and just play for those guys in the locker room and play for the fans.Ē
And De Ro is right. He does have to play for his teammates and the Toronto faithful, but he also has to play for himself.
The soon-to-be 33-year old Scarborough native said he deserves a designated player contract, like fellow Torontonian Julian de Guzman, who earned $1.7 million last season.
Itís an interesting point when you consider what he means to the club.
He scored 13 of the clubís 30 goals last season, played in 26 of 29 games for FC and is the captain and face of the franchise.
Compound that with the departure of forward Chad Barrett,≠ who was traded to the LA Galaxy in January,≠ and you have a lot of weight on De Rosarioís shoulders.
De Rosario tip-toed around the subject in a way that would make the cast of Black Swan envious, but the fact remains that FC needs to mend these wounds before itís too late.
While the MLS is no NBA, it would be a shame to see this turn into a Carmelo Anthony-esque situation.
A mild crisis has been avoided, as De Ro said he will play in the season opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, but the hometown hero hasnít spoken to what will happen for the other 28 games this season.
Red flags are going up, TFC management.
If your star player doesnít know where heís going to be by next week≠, let alone at seasonís end≠, how can you expect the same level of production that has made him one of the top players in the leagueís short history?
This is how off-field distraction affect on-field action, and thatís just what we may see in season five.
And with the hopes of the nation ... okay, thatís a total exaggeration, but at least the hopes of Red Nation lay at his feet, and the last thing this club needs is de Rosarioís contract dispute poisoning the well as it makes a push for the playoffs.
The fact of the matter is this team needs De Ro in order to succeed, so in the words of Teddy KGB, Straight up... Pay him... Pay that man his money.