Soccer

De Rosario puts frustrations aside to focus on game

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The Canadian Press
3/16/2011 8:29:27 PM
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TORONTO -- Dwayne De Rosario would rather be opening the Major League Soccer season with a new contract in hand.

As it is, Toronto FC's leading scorer will be opening the season, which wasn't a given just a few weeks ago after he had threatened a boycott if he didn't get a raise.

But now with the season-opener versus the Vancouver Whitecaps just days away, and his contract status unchanged, De Rosario is trying to put the off-field frustrations out of his mind and just play.

"It's just a very frustrating process," De DeRosario said Wednesday, a day before the team's departure for Vancouver. "I have to try to just focus on playing and forget about all the empty promises and things said that haven't fulfilled themselves yet, and just play for those guys in the locker-room and play for the fans."

The attacking midfielder will lead the team when it opens its fifth season Saturday against MLS newcomer Vancouver at Empire Field (TSN, 6:30 p.m. ET).

De Rosario talked to reporters at length Wednesday, a day after refusing to speak with the media, and was asked about his mindset going into the game.

"You guys are putting me under pressure, boy. . .," De Rosario said with a sigh. "I love the game, at the end of the day I love this city and I just want to go out there and play and let my play do the talking."

The 32-year-old had expressed unhappiness last season over his contract -- he earned just US$443,750 last season, about a quarter of what designated player Julian de Guzman made. Heading into his option year, he would also like some long-term guarantees.

De Rosario, Toronto's all-time leading scorer with 31 goals, went public with his frustration last summer when he mimicked signing a cheque after scoring goal, which he later apologized for.

He alluded to other Toronto players who faced similar contract frustration, but wouldn't specify who.

"You've seen other players, this has been an ongoing process here," De Rosario said. "The main thing we just want to do is play, but there's a business side to it and every player wants to get their just reward and if you say something, stick by it."

Adrian Cann left Toronto FC training camp early this month in an unsuccessful attempt to renegotiate a new contract.

Aron Winter, Toronto's new coach and technical director, said the drama around De Rosario's contract dispute hasn't been felt on the field.

"He's a good guy, he's doing well," Winter said. "How the future is going to (play out) I don't know, but at his moment it's most important that everybody and also the players and also Dwayne be focused on the game on Saturday."

De Rosario insisted he'll be able to do that come Saturday.

"Once I cross the white line, I play with enjoyment, I've done it since the first year, if that wasn't the case I wouldn't be in this position after two years," he said. "Obviously I just try to focus on my game and play to best of my ability."

Toronto announced Wednesday it has signed defender Demitrius Omphroy, the team's 26th pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.

The 21-year-old Omphroy spent four years at the University of California where he started in 35 of the 70 matches he played in, collecting four goals and 12 assists.

He was 17 years old and playing in Portugal when he woke up one morning with vision problems. His parents asked him to come home. He was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"I want quality defenders and that's why I took Demitrius in the SuperDraft," Winter said. "He is one of the players that I saw at the MLS Combine, and he was on my ranking list and he performed well in pre-season."

Toronto departed for Vancouver after a brief stop at home, coming on the heels of a training camp that took the team to Turkey, then Orlando, then Charleston, S.C.

Toronto is back at BMO Field to host the Portland Timbers on March 26.

Dwayne De Rosario (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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