Wileman: De Rosario's TFC return a chance to put things right

Luke Wileman
1/6/2014 11:48:20 AM
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Dwayne De Rosario's return to Toronto FC is expected to be confirmed later this week after the former MLS MVP agreed to a contract with his hometown team. Canada's all-time leading goal scorer was selected by TFC in the MLS Re-Entry Draft before Christmas and I understand the two sides have now successfully negotiated a deal, although he hasn't yet put pen to paper.

Whether or not this move is the right one for Toronto FC depends on how much they are paying, but with financially prudent general manager Tim Bezbatchenko at the helm, it's a good bet the salary cap hit will be low, with the contract fully stocked with bonuses depending on the performances of De Rosario and the team.

I was at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on the day De Rosario was first introduced as a Toronto FC player back in December 2008 following a highly successful spell with the Houston Dyamo. It was a heralded homecoming of a player who was one of the most decorated in Major League Soccer - a winner, coming to his hometown as a signature signing for a club heading into its third year of existence.

For two seasons, De Ro lived up to the billing, but the club struggled through managerial instability and failed to qualify for the playoffs. However, his personal impact during his first spell with the club was overshadowed by the way in which he exited Toronto early in the 2011 season - a year when he went on to play for both the New York Red Bulls and DC United, and was then named MLS MVP.

The infamous cheque signing and then the training spell at Celtic took the shine off his time in Toronto, but now there is a chance to put things right.

De Rosario will now have the opportunity to finish a wonderful MLS career in his hometown. He could probably have earned more money elsewhere, but if he can make the desired impact, he has the potential to heal the wounds felt by some fans following his 2011 departure. It's not only a chance for De Rosario to make amends, but also for Toronto FC, under new management, to show the club has completely moved on from past failings.

This time around, De Rosario's role will be much different. He won't necessarily be the focal point on the pitch, but more a member of the supporting cast for the already signed Brazilian forward Gilberto and the expected arrival of England international forward Jermain Defoe.

For a player who turns 36 in May, it seems an ideal scenario. De Rosario is coming off a frustrating season in 2013. His DC United team finished bottom of the Eastern Conference and he scored an MLS career low of just three goals. So it is a much needed change of scenery with all of the financial benefits and home comforts that being in Toronto will bring.

For the club, it is a gamble worth taking. It sends a positive message about the team's new management, while also providing them with a valuable piece of the puzzle currently being assembled by Bezbatchenko.

De Rosario may be getting to the latter stages of his career, but he's been included in the MLS Best XI six times and still has plenty to offer. In his first spell with the club, he scored 27 goals in 57 MLS appearances during which time he was also named team captain. It's unlikely the Scarborough, Ontario native will produce those goal-scoring exploits this time around but he will more than adequately fit the role that will be asked of him. And in my opinion, the addition of the Canadian veteran is another shrewd addition by a club that appears to be moving in the right direction.

Luke Wileman

Luke Wileman

Luke Wileman is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on

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