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Butler: De Rosario's thoughts on the game and WC qualifiers

Noel Butler
8/31/2012 4:00:34 PM
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Even by Dwayne de Rosario standards it has been quite the week since the final whistle blew late last Saturday afternoon. His team thoroughly upstaged by the Impact upstarts with his old friend and long term national team colleague Patrice Bernier stealing the spotlight.

No football hangover for the MLS MVP the following morning. His DeRo United Youth Tour that was formed in 2007 to build, inspire and educate the next generation had a date in a Montreal suburb with hundreds of players, the coaches and parents from Lakeshore Soccer Club.

De Rosario's perfect cure for a Saputo Stadium afternoon before.

"It's always nice to give back to kids. It's funny because regardless of what type of game you have - kids have that power and energy to put a smile on your face and make you kind of forget about it," De Rosario explained to TSN.ca.

"The De Ro United Youth soccer tours is always focused on inspiring the young kids, the future stars of tomorrow to help them feel they have the power to be anything they want to be and to follow their dreams. We also focus heavily on nutrition and give them guidelines on how to take better care of their body to build a better foundation for themselves from an early age."

"If we do have future Canadian or soccer stars coming out of the soccer tour even better but again we're trying to mould better citizens to mould our community. First and foremost."

Staying with the community theme on Tuesday afternoon De Rosario got word of a considerable honor - the 2012 DC Sportsperson of the Year Award. Handed out annually by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance past recipients include the likes of Alexander Ovechkin.

"I'm definitely grateful for that award, that acknowledgement. It's one thing that when you play, put all your energy into this sport and the development of this sport but when you get recognized by the community it's even sometimes a bigger honor."

"For the people of DC and the surrounding areas Virginia and Maryland to recognize me as the Sportsperson of the Year it's really a great feeling. I can't lie it's definitely one that I'm very proud to be acknowledged as and very grateful at the same time."

To be held on Sept. 11 at the prestigious National Museum Building that has previously staged Presidential Inaugural Balls, it is a black tie event with a difference.

Sneakers are the required footwear, something close to De Rosario's heart. He wasn't sure what pair he'll wear. "I don't know yet," he said. "Hopefully if I do get opportunity to get up on stage and wear sneakers Puma can send me some nice sneakers for the event."

They'll likely send him a closet load in recognition of the footballing milestone he achieved at RFK Wednesday night when he joined the 100 Club. In doing so joined a list with the names of only six other MLS players to have bagged the back of the net on a hundred occasions.

"It feels good to accomplish such a milestone in your career," he said. "My first objective was always try to become a professional soccer player and as an attacking player score and create goals."

If there's a hallmark to the personality type of De Rosario it is the sheer speed he displays in genuinely recognizing others who have contributed to his success.  "I've been very blessed, fortunate to have quality players around me to help me out to reach such an accomplishment," he said. "I definitely couldn't have done it without the supporting staff around me."

"The players, and obviously the fans who have continuously supported me throughout my career - from San Jose to Houston, Toronto, New York and now to DC. It's been a long road coming and it feels good to get the 100th off my shoulders and hopefully I can create some more special moments."

Even though in a playoff battle with Montreal, De Rosario is able to look at the bigger Canadian picture. Having won a thing or two he knows full well what success can nourish and nurture.

"Well you know Montreal has always had a great team, a good following, a great fan base a very knowledgeable soccer community so it doesn't really surprise me," he said. "They've had great stints in the A League, other leagues as well prior to MLS.

"You're only now seeing them doing well at the highest level. I'm happy to see them doing well it's a Canadian team. There are Canadian players, national team players on their team and when they're doing well it helps the grass roots level and it further builds soccer in the area. We're both in the Eastern Conference battling for a playoff spot but hopefully we can clinch that spot."

He did spare a thought for Canada's original MLS club. "On the Toronto side it's obviously disappointing to see my hometown club continue to struggle."

Having started his professional career with the Toronto Lynx back in 1997 and receiving his first senior cap a little over a year later with many humps and hurdles over this 15-year time frame De Rosario is of no doubt and even with little silverware to show for it Canadian soccer has made immense strides in his time.

"Just to see soccer continue to grow in terms of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto FC you know having a professional atmosphere and a professional environment now where in MLS you know of course this helps this sport continue to grow," he said. "Hopefully we can continue to develop the women's game because it would be nice to see Toronto FC, Montreal and Vancouver all have a women's program. So if we can continue to develop that because we have some great young female talent and obviously we see that at the national level. We need to continue to invest in that aspect."

"I think from where I started to now I've seen a drastic improvement in terms of the development of soccer, the facilities and all these sorts of things in Canada."

Nothing though would compare with Canada repeating what it has only been achieved once previously. 1986 for Canadian soccer reads 1966 for English football.

Wonderfully colorful memories and recollections as Canadian football industrialism elevated us to our only invitation to a World Cup Finals.  We're in the digital age now and the football equivalent of the promise land beckons once more.

Stephen Hart has made his choices our World Cup destiny lays now with 21 men of various backgrounds and football pedigrees - each one with the common goal.

"We're trying to push to make the World Cup and hopefully we can accomplish that this time around. That would be a dream come true for me, that's something I've always wanted to accomplish and would be an unbelievable opportunity if I can help my country qualify for a World Cup."

With Panama, undoubtedly the class of the group as Stephen Hart had firmly suggested well before a ball had been kicked in this current phase of qualification are now appearing rather brightly on Canada's World Cup qualifying horizon.

Securing the required returns in this pair of matches on September 7 in Toronto and then in Panama City a mere four days later will open up a much clearer path to Canada's equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle, the Hex.

"Definitely," he said. "These two games against Panama home and away are the most important games so far in our lead up to the World Cup in Brazil."

For someone who has done so much throughout his entire career to help place Canada on football terra firma De Rosario appealed to our burgeoning base to hit the BMO Field hustings next Friday night. Come one, come all and absolutely bring your football banter was his unequivocal message.

"I really, really encourage all the fans to come out wear your red and white and show your support," he said. "I got a video sent to me from the fans. We love that, we appreciate that and we really need all the fans support to come out to make BMO Field a loud and proud atmosphere.

"As players we thrive off that, we enjoy it and we love seeing that. These games are huge coming up I can't stress enough how big they are. Again, we really, really would like to see everyone come out and show their support."

What making a World Cup Finals would mean bought out the young boy in De Rosario - the one that likely convinced him that his dream to become a professional footballer could be fulfilled. 

"Oh man, if I make a World Cup Finals geez that'd be, that'd be, that'd be it for me," he said. "I mean that would be my dream right there. That would be my dream come true. I could stop playing and I'd be quite comfortable with my career after that. Obviously that's how big it is for me."

"I've watched it in '86 when I was a kid. I've been around the national team programs since the Lenarduzzi days right up to now. Fighting hard with every ounce of sweat that I have and sometimes with the mouth that I have to help the program to get over that hump and to continue fighting.

"So it would be the ultimate dream come true to accomplish that. I don't even know what words can describe that moment."

Many of the kids who showed up at the De Ro United Youth event in Montreal last Sunday have parents who were mere aspiring football kids themselves back in 1986.

They say seven days is a long time in politics. In the next week, these two upcoming matches will play a defining role in De Rosario's ultimate football dream. Will you?
 

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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