After Heady Play, De Rosario Is MVP

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2007

With his 6-year-old son, Osaze, on his lap and his arm around daughter Asha, 10, Houston Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario smiled yesterday as he sat at the news conference after being named the most valuable player of the 2007 MLS Cup.

De Rosario had powered home the game-winning goal in the Dynamo's 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution on a header in the 74th minute, becoming the first player in MLS Cup history to score the game-winning goal twice (he scored the game winner in 2001 for the San Jose Earthquakes).

For De Rosario, who also assisted on Houston's first goal, it was yet another clutch performance in a career that now boasts four MLS titles.

"I'm very grateful to win another championship," he said. "It's more special because it's back-to-back and I wouldn't want to win it with anybody else besides these guys. The dedication and the day-in, day-out training with these guys, to see how hard they work. We have that desire to win that never dies and it shows every year."

De Rosario, who was named the MLS Cup MVP for the second time, is tied for second with D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno with four MLS titles, one behind former United defender Jeff Agoos, who won five -- three with United and two with San Jose.

"It speaks for itself, four championships," said Houston midfielder Richard Mulrooney, who was teammates with De Rosario in 2001 when he won his first championship. "He's got MVPs of all-star games, of MLS Cups, and most importantly he's a good person. He works hard, he's a family man, and I'm just happy he's on our team."

In the first half against New England, De Rosario struggled to find space to go forward as Houston was unable to muster much of an attack and trailed 1-0 at the break. But the Dynamo switched to a 3-5-2 formation in the second half, freeing De Rosario in the attack, and the seven-year veteran took advantage of his new role.

In the 61st minute with his team trailing 1-0, De Rosario was on the end of a cross from Brian Mullan and slotted a pass across the box to forward Joseph Ngwenya, who whiffed on his first shot attempt before slotting home the equalizer.

Then, in the 74th minute, De Rosario got on the end of a curling cross from Brad Davis and scored the game-winner from about 13 yards out.

De Rosario tried to play down the header, saying he had the "simple" job of putting it away. But in the locker room, De Rosario's teammates praised the goal, and Houston Coach Dominic Kinnear lauded the finish.

"Laughingly, I can't believe he scored with his head," Kinnear said. "Because if you see him in practice he never does. I'm surprised he didn't try to sidewinder it. But I think Dwayne's being humble when he's saying all he had to do was finish it because I think it was a good ball from Brad, but it was an excellent header."

De Rosario pointed to yesterday's goal as holding more meaning than his 2001 game-winner because of the implications it held in the history of the league.

"They're both special moments, both with special guys," he said. "I think 2001 was special, and I think this is even more special because we're the second team to go back-to-back and just to make history in the league is a special moment."

De Rosario, who grew up in Ontario, has been a member of the Canadian national team since age 16 and was named Canadian player of the year in both 2005 and 2006.

He turned professional at age 18, and entered MLS in 2001 with San Jose after stints in Germany and in the A-League, including two years with the Richmond Kickers. The midfielder made an impact immediately, scoring five goals and adding four assists during the year and being named MVP of the Earthquakes' MLS Cup win over the Los Angeles Galaxy.

In 2003, De Rosario returned from a torn lateral collateral ligament in time to record an assist in the Earthquakes' MLS Cup win over Chicago and in 2005, he was named to the MLS Best XI for the first time and was the runner-up for the league's MVP award.

De Rosario again was named to the MLS Best XI and was a finalist for the league's MVP award as he led Houston to its first championship last season before capping this year with his MVP performance yesterday.

"I think at the end of your career you'll be looked at for the number of championships you've got and he's got four," Mulrooney said. "He deserves it, he works hard, he represents his country well and most importantly he believes in his team. And we believe in him."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company