(D.C. United) (D.C. United)

D.C. United and Dwayne De Rosario have officially parted ways.

A day after the news broke on the Insider, the club announced Thursday that it had declined to exercise the option on the veteran attacker’s contract.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was one that we felt was best for our team to move forward into next season and beyond,” General Manager Dave Kasper said in a written statement.

De Rosario, who turns 36 early next season, was United’s only designated player this year, earning a base salary of $600,000. About $370,000 of that impacted the salary cap. Given his declining production and United’s emphasis on young players, there was no chance of the club retaining him at the same pay scale. United weighed whether to offer him a new deal at a reduced rate. Ultimately, the club wanted to begin its rebuilding efforts without him.

De Rosario, a four-time MLS Cup winner, is eligible for the two-stage re-entry draft in December. The first phase requires teams to inherit a player at the current salary. The second allows for negotiation. Would another MLS club select him in the second stage? Perhaps. In the right role on the right team, he could squeeze another few years out of his sterling career.

DeRo’s final DCU numbers (mid-2011 through end of 2013):

68 league appearances

59 starts

23 goals

21 assists

1 MLS MVP award

1 Best XI selection

1 playoff appearance

5 U.S. Open Cup appearances

5 starts

5 goals

1 U.S. Open Cup trophy

On Twitter this morning, De Rosario wrote: “So humbled by all the support & appreciate ur words of encouragement. A new chapter is soon to begin. Stay tuned & have a Happy Halloween”

As for the DeRo banner coming down as he exited RFK Stadium on Wednesday, the club said most signage around the building was in the process of being removed, whether or not the player on display was returning next year. “It was not intended to slight the player,” one official said.

Conclusion: Coincidental but terrible timing.

Meantime, there is some question whether the corporate sponsor prominently displayed on those banners, Volkswagen, will remain United’s primary backer. The contract, valued at almost $3 million per season when first agreed upon in 2008, expires at the end of the year. The sides remain in talks, I’m told, but other potential DCU sponsors have stepped forward, as well. Last year, when VW exercised an option for the 2013 season, a company official suggested possibly continuing the relationship as part of a new stadium. Volkswagen’s U.S. operations are headquartered in Fairfax County.