In what turned out to be a rather lopsided race, Dwayne De Rosario of DC United was awarded the 2011 MLS Most Valuable Player in a ceremony at The Home Depot Center this afternoon. With a convincing margin in all three voting categories — club vote, media vote, and player vote — De Rosario easily outpaced both Brad Davis of the Houston Dynamo and Brek Shea of FC Dallas for the league’s most highly regarded honor. The voting segment in which the 2011 MLS Golden Boot winner dominated was that of his fellow players, where De Rosario finished a more than three-fold percentage advantage over both his closest rivals.
“I admire a lot of players in this league and to get that respect from the players is a great feeling,” shared De Rosario to a table of reporters following the award presentation. “When other players identify with your hard work and dedication, your commitment to not only on the field but off the field as well trying to develop and grow this sport across North America. I am definitely grateful for all the players that voted for me.”
The former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder — famous for scoring the “golden-goal” game winner against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2001 MLS Cup Final — collected two championships in the Bay Area, plus two additional championships when the team was relocated to Houston. Following a trade to Toronto FC prior to the 2009 season, De Rosario spent a couple tumultuous years with his hometown club. The disgruntled Canadian International then embarked on a mini-tour of MLS this season, being traded in April to the New York Red Bulls, and then shipped to DC United in June. At all three stops of his 2011 season, DeRosario scored for his team.
The eleven-year MLS veteran — a player that has twice been a finalist for MVP honors prior to this season — finished 2011 with 16 goals and 12 assists. While the co-scoring champion of MLS along with the Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski, De Rosario captured the Golden Boot award by virtue of his commanding advantage in assists. And to no surprise, his total points earned far outpaced any other player in the league. The one flaw on his resume — his DC United team failed to qualify for the MLS postseason.
“I appreciate the media and the players identifying what I’ve done throughout this year,” stated De Rosario. “MVP is ‘most valuable player’ so it is really one individual in terms of how his success and how he overcame his obstacles and how he helped his team out.”
The often controversial, but undeniably talented midfielder continued with a quick acknowledgement of his teammates. “I never play for personal achievements, I play for team accomplishment. But if these things come along the way, I am grateful and willing to accept them.”
De Rosario becomes the first player in MLS history to win the MVP award and not be on a playoff team. While that fact did not bother him, he expressed how bittersweet it was to get the recognition the voters and not have the chance to compete for this season’s MLS Cup championship on Sunday evening.
“One hundred percent,” said De Rosario with some emphasis. “If I could exchange this award to play on Sunday, I would in a heartbeat, because I know what it’s like to be in the ‘Grand Finale’ as I call it — the media, the hype, the importance of the game, the joy that comes into that. Yes, it’s a personal feeling, but it’s one that the whole team feels and the community feels and the fans feel — that’s something that when you’re in the moment you understand. I would love to be there on Sunday, definitely.”
At the very least, the self-professed fan of the league will have reason to watch this Sunday, as he also acknowledged that he has a rooting interest in the MLS Cup Final. However, without hesitation he refused to say whether he was pulling for his old club the Houston Dynamo or one the biggest rivals in his playing career the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“I do,” he said with a hearty yet enigmatic laugh, “but I’ll keep it to myself.”
(Photo courtesy of MLSSoccer.com)