Two-game suspension delayed star's return
At 34 years old and heading into his 13th season in Major League Soccer, every missed game for Dwayne De Rosario could serve as a reminder he can't go on playing forever.
But that's not the way the D.C. United playmaker spent his first two weeks of the year, suspended for a head-butt during the team's final preseason game.
"I never think of it like that," De Rosario said. "If I'm missing a game, I'm letting down my teammates most importantly. I'm just excited to be back."
|D.C. United at Red Bulls|
|When » Saturday, 12:30 p.m.|
|Where » Red Bull Arena,|
|TV » NBC|
D.C. United (1-1-0) couldn't need him more. While the team bounced back from a season-opening defeat on the road at Houston with last weekend's 1-0 victory at home against Real Salt Lake, the match was devoid of the kind of offensive spark De Rosario has spent his career providing.
It has been more than six months since he was in the starting lineup. He missed the last seven games of the 2012 regular season and nearly all of the postseason with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
While United didn't lose in the regular season after De Rosario was hurt, it learned to play without him. That adjustment now will be in reverse.
"He's an impact player, so any time you have Dwayne on your roster or in the game for you, it's a guy that there's no moment too big, and obviously getting him back into the group is important for us," United assistant coach Josh Wolff said before the season. "He brings a different level of creativity and finished product in front of goal, which is second to very few in this league and in the history of the league."
De Rosario's return will come in a high-profile showdown with the New York Red Bulls (0-1-1), whom United beat in last year's wild conference semifinal series. The midday kickoff will start a day of rivalry games across MLS.
"You can just tell by the way [De Rosario] is in the locker room before both of the last couple of games, he wants to be out there," United midfielder Chris Pontius said. "Obviously, every single one of us would take him on the field. We've got to find him early on in this game and give him the ball as much as we can to get him back comfortable on the field."