Added time not taking a toll on reigning MVP
When D.C. United re-signed Dwayne De Rosario in February, coach Ben Olsen pointed out that the reigning MLS MVP wasn't "a spring chicken." He promised to manage De Rosario's minutes, knowing a six-month, 34-game season would take its toll on the now 34-year-old Canadian.
But as D.C. United (9-4-3) reaches the halfway point of the year, De Rosario has started every game. Not only is he the lone United player to do so -- with the second-most minutes in MLS -- he's on pace to play more than he ever has before.
|D.C. United at Red Bulls|
|When » Sunday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.|
|TV » NBC Sports Network|
His latest start, United's 1-0 win at Philadelphia last weekend, came four days after he also started a trio of contests for the Canadian national team.
"I play to how I feel," De Rosario said. "If I feel good, then I'll play. If I feel that I'm tired or fatigued, then I won't do that to my team. We've got good enough depth where if I don't play, we've got guys that can come in and fill the role."
Last season that wasn't quite as true, and De Rosario willingly embraced the burden, piling up a career-high 33 games (31 starts) and 2,781 minutes for three teams (he started the year in Toronto before getting traded to New York and then D.C. United).
But even this year Olsen has been reluctant to replace De Rosario, subbing for him only three times and preferring to move him to forward when Branko Boskovic has come on to take over United's central attacking midfield role.
"It's tough to keep him off the field," Olsen said. "He's the game changer, and he makes plays even on the days where he's a little tired and is gutting through games."
United is riding a four-game winning streak -- its longest since 2008 -- heading into Sunday's sold-out visit to the New York Red Bulls (8-4-3).
"I thought we had a good enough team to be in first place," De Rosario said. "Did I have any inclination that we were going to be in first place at this point? No, I didn't. I'm very happy that we are, and it's a lot better place where we are now than where we were last year."