Dwayne De Rosario‘s tenure with D.C. United, a 2 1/2-year period that included an MLS most valuable player award, a scoring title and the honor of wearing the captain’s armband, has ended.
The club informed the Canadian attacker Wednesday that it would not exercise the option on his contract — the largest on the roster — and was not planning to offer him a new deal, multiple sources told the Insider.
Club officials did not immediately respond to messages.
One source said De Rosario, 35, cleared out his locker after meeting with management.
United cut ties with three other over-30 veterans this week: forwards Lionard Pajoy and Carlos Ruiz and midfielder Marcelo Saragosa. De Rosario, however, is the most prominent departure, by far.
In the final guaranteed year of his contract, the 2011 MVP earned $600,000 in base salary and about $630,000 in overall compensation. Both DeRo and the club struggled all season: He had three goals and two assists in 24 appearances and United finished with the fewest victories in MLS history (three).
United had no intention of exercising the 2014 contract option. The big question was whether the club would offer a new deal at a considerably lower rate and, if so, whether he would accept both the smaller salary and a secondary role. Ultimately, United did not see him in its plans in any capacity and needed both the salary cap space and, according to one source, “the room for younger players to grow into bigger roles” next year.
It is unclear whether De Rosario will make himself eligible for the MLS re-entry drafts in December or seek a contract overseas.
Upon his acquisition from New York for midfielder Dax McCarty midway through the 2011 season, De Rosario was a smash hit. He elevated United’s attack and, with several sensational performances, almost guided the club to the playoffs after a four-year drought.
With 13 goals and seven assists in 18 appearances, De Rosario was voted MVP — a first for one of MLS’s most accomplished players. His portfolio also includes four MLS Cup titles (two with San Jose, two with Houston), six Best XI all-league honors, two MLS Cup MVP trophies and a scoring crown in 2011 with United. In the league’s career record book, he is sixth in regular season goals (103), 12th in assists (77) and 11th in appearances (324).
As reward for his 2011 exploits, United re-worked his contract to include two guaranteed years and a club-held option.
Last year, De Rosario contributed seven goals and 12 assists before suffering a late-season knee injury while playing for the Canadian national team in a World Cup qualifier. In his absence, United rallied down the stretch and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. Still not at full health, DeRo returned for the elimination game against Houston at RFK Stadium.
This year began ominously with a two-game suspension, a penalty imposed by MLS for head-butting Philadelphia’s Danny Cruz, a former teammate, during the preseason finale in Orlando. He never found an effective rhythm, and when Coach Ben Olsen cut his playing time, De Rosario voiced displeasure. He and Olsen appeared to patch up their differences, but with United out of playoff contention, he was in and out of the lineup the rest of the year and started three of the final eight matches. He finished with three goals — tied for the team lead — and two assists.
De Rosario’s best performances came in the U.S. Open Cup with five goals in a three-game span and a determined performance in the 1-0 championship upset at Real Salt Lake this month.
Asked last week whether he would like to remain in Washington next year, De Rosario said he was excited about playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, an international competition that United qualified for by winning the Open Cup title. He also cited a desire to remain in the same city for the last segment of his career with his wife and four children.
The departure of the four veterans cleared about $700,000 in salary cap space. (A portion of De Rosario’s contract did not apply toward the cap.)