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Kickin’ it DeRo takes aim at the CSA’s failure to produce a winning national team

De rosario

In DeRo’s opinion ... De s pi t e r e ce n t s ucce s s at t h e go l d cup, c a n a d a’ s fa il ur e t o q u a l if y f or t h e 2 010 w or l d cup s hou l d b e a c a l l t o a r m s t o o v e r h a u l t h e n at ion a l s occe r p rogr a m by Ryan Johnston | saying this or that guy saying

the result of a decade worth of

FC brought the most tal-

that, it was always just little

bureaucratic disorder at the top

ented and decorated Cana-

pockets of guys saying things,”

levels of the CSA. The experi-

dian soccer star of this genera-

De Rosario says. “I just say what

enced and talented team that

tion back home. But what the

needs to be said for the team

was pegged by many to chal-

fledgling Major League Soccer

and you hope that people listen

lenge for a spot in South Africa

franchise might not have realized

and respond … and you get what

scored just two goals in its first

is that Dwayne De Rosario is also

you hope to get.”

three matches and was elimi-

the most outspoken.

What needed to be said was that

nated by the halfway point of

Now, with the platform to deliver

the people entrusted to grow

the six-match qualification group

his message, the man known

the game of soccer in Canada


simply as ‘DeRo’ has the Cana-

were in fact letting it down. In De

It was humiliating, but De Ro-

dian Soccer Association and its

Rosario’s mind, the failure of the

sario, who grew up learning the

handling of the men’s national

Canadian men’s national team

game in the Toronto suburb of

squad squarely in his sights.

in its bid to qualify for the 2010

Scarborough, had warned of the

“I was sick of hearing this guy

World Cup in South Africa was

harbingers of things to come to


Though Dwayne De Rosario has sported Canada’s national colours CUTLINE on previous occasions, he excused himself from the team following its failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Nick Laham / Getty Images


n December of 2008 Toronto

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De Rosario on playing in Scarborough as a boy PLAY NOW simply come to-

the opening game

gether quickly and

kicked off in Toronto

get the results based

on July 1, 2008.

on the fact that the

“People need to pay

team looked good on

more attention to


the men’s national

“It is a shame be-

team and why it is

cause I think we

not successful,” De

really had the quality

Rosario says. “It

and the players that

should be success-

deserved to taste

ful; we have enough

the World Cup,” De

successful players

Rosario says. “But

around the globe,

like I said: a lot of

playing at big clubs

things did not go

and doing well.

our way and things

There is something

that we were asking


didn’t get answered

What is missing is

and we suffered.”

a unified national

For De Rosario, the

one with a clear vision of where the sport needs to go and how it can get

suffering ended after a 2-1 loss to Mexico in the third match De Rosario holds aloft the Major League Soccer Cup after winning the championship with the Houston Dynamo in 2007.

there. In the past 10

of six. With just one point earned and holders of last place in

years the CSA has been

arrange suitable opponents on

the antithesis of these qualities

international dates set aside by

De Rosario announced he was

and was ultimately exposed in

FIFA. Furthermore, in the past 10

finished with the national team

the disastrous qualification run.

years the men’s team has played

under its current regime. Irrec-

At the crux of the resentment

just five matches on home soil.

oncilable differences with then

was lack of preparation. The

So, with very little preparation

head coach Dale Mitchell and the

Canadian men’s national team

De Rosario and the rest of the

perceived apathy shown by the

is notorious for struggling to

Canadian team were expected to

CSA forced De Rosario to quit the


the four-team group,

Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images

soccer association,

Mitchell Layton / Getty Images For MLS

officials long before

As tough as he is on the pitch, De Rosario has taken an even tougher stand with the Canadian Soccer Association. “People need to pay more attention to the men’s national team and why it is not successful,” he tells’s Ryan Johnston. SPORTSNET.CA PLUS 5

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De Rosario on his move to England

Scott Pribyl / MLS via Getty Images


De Rosario’s presence on the Toronto FC roster this season is a big reason why the team is finally in contention for the playoffs.

things,” De Rosario recalls. “I re-

starting 11 player for England,

member the fields being so nice

his success abroad leaving a bit-

and the players were given top

ter taste in the mouths of many



In the wake of the men’s national

The sting of abandonment would

team being eliminated from 2010

strike again in 2008 when teen-

contention last October, the CSA

age prodigy Jonathan de Guz-

released a budget promise of

man received his Dutch passport,

$25 million by 2013. The CSA’s

leaving behind the same fields

operating budget in 2007 was

where De Rosario played as a

$12 million, $4.5 of which was

child in Scarborough.

directed toward the senior men’s

As a patriotic Canadian, the deci-


sions of both Hargreaves and de

“I won’t say (the England ex-

Guzman did not seem traitorous

ample) is successful, but the way

to De Rosario, but rather the

they treat their players and the

fallout of the bureaucratic defi-

preparation surrounding prac-


tices and such is first-class,” he

“It is sad that we put people in


the position where they want

But in pointing out the success of

to play for other countries,” De

England, De Rosario is swinging a

Rosario said. “I think if the orga-

double-edged sword.

nization was committed to our

The grass being greener on the

national team they would want

other side of the ocean has long

to stay. At the end of the day it


Disappointment at the profes-

But being off the team did not

repairing the reputation of a

been a temptation for Canadian

is a personal choice. They know

“It was very disappointing. In

sional level has been foreign to

deter De Rosario in his verbal

country that has slumped to No.

players looking to make a name

they’re Canadian, I don’t think

this day and age if you play one

De Rosario. In eight MLS seasons

crusade. In fact, his homecom-

92 in the FIFA world rankings, De

abroad. Calgary-born Owen

either would ever deny that, but

forward you are going to get

the 31-year-old has never missed

ing with Toronto FC provided the

Rosario is quick to point out that

Hargeaves ducked out on his own

like I said it is sad that the situ-

punished, and we got punished,”

the playoffs and has four league

player with a captive audience

the simple things would be an

press conference to link up with

ation made them choose to play

De Rosario says. “We were very

titles on his resume. He is also

to proliferate the message he

ideal place.

the English national team before

where they are now.”

defensive-minded going in to

one of 18 Canadian men to win

has been preaching from afar for

“I went to England as a kid and it

World Cup 2002 in South Korea/

On the opposite end of the spec-

those games even though we had

an international soccer tourna-

most of his career.

was an eye-opening experience.

Japan. Hargreaves would estab-

trum, with 52 senior caps to his

an attacking-minded team.”

ment, the 2000 Gold Cup.

As for where the CSA can start

I saw how professional they do

lish himself as a member of the

credit, De Rosario was forced to



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De Rosario’s prediction for 2010 World Cup

make a personal choice regard-

was forced to move on without

ing his own future with the Cana-

the no-shows. The question is

dian team on the eve of the 2009

will the door still be open come

Gold Cup.

next qualifying.

A promise made to Toronto FC

“(The no shows) will have to

the day he was brought home by

answer that question,” Hart said.

the MLS club would win out as De

“When you are talking about your

Rosario turned down the oppor-

national team it comes down to

tunity to return to the men’s na-

the players who want to play.

tional team, which was under the

About people having faith in the

new leadership he sought back in

team and the future, I can’t pre-

October. Mitchell was replaced by

dict that.”

Stephan Hart, who orchestrated

De Rosario insists he is not done

an immediate return to attacking

wearing the No. 14 jersey for


Canada. In fact, it can be ar-

While the new style would com-

gued that the coaching change

plement a player like De Rosario,

and the subsequent success is

club success and settling his wife

in some small part a product of

and three children after being

his criticisms. While the expecta-

uprooted from Houston to To-

tion of playoff soccer in Toronto

ronto took priority.

has moved De Rosario on to the

“It was a decision I made to

next challenge, he is not about

make a full commitment to TFC

to lay down the responsibility of

right now and to focus on my

remaining one of the few strong

season,” De Rosario says. “It is a

voices in Canadian soccer.

big year ahead of us and I want

“Player have needs and wants

to make sure we accomplish

and not only for yourself but for

what I have in my mind for this

the betterment of the team and


for your country. That is where

Ironically, Canada shrugged off

I stand,” De Rosario says. “I am

the yoke of last year’s disap-

still going to be a part of the

pointment to finish first in its

national team and I am certainly

group at the Gold Cup. Coach

still going to voice my opinion.”

Hart, the man behind the revival, 8 SPORTSNET.CA PLUS

Miguel Riopa / AFP / Getty Images


De Rosario and Canada teammate Jim Brennan battle Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo during a friendly in Portugal in 2006. SPORTSNET.CA PLUS 9

Harry How / AllSport

de rosario

De Rosario holds his son in one arm and his MVP trophy in the other after being named the star of the Columbus Crew’s MLS championship team in 2001. De Rosario scored the winning goal in overtime. 10 SPORTSNET.CA PLUS

Sportsnet Magazine July 2009