- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2011

There isn’t much Dwayne De Rosario hasn’t accomplished in his decorated MLS career.

During his 11 years in the league, the D.C. United playmaker has won four MLS Cups, claiming Most Valuable Player honors for two of those contests. He also is a six-time All-Star selection who twice has scored the league’s Goal of the Year.

At 33, nearing the end of a tumultuous season that saw him traded twice in three months, De Rosario is leading the league in goals while chasing his first MLS scoring title. But more notably, he has built an unlikely case to capture another honor that has evaded him: the league MVP trophy.

De Rosario’s argument will be all the stronger if he can lead United (9-8-11) to their first playoff berth since 2007, a task that will continue with a two-game Eastern Conference road swing to face the Philadelphia Union (9-7-13) on Thursday and the Columbus Crew (11-11-8) on Sunday.

“We’re still not in the playoffs,” De Rosario said. “There’s no greater joy than winning a championship as a team. The individual accolades come with the fruits of your labor, which is your hard work, your dedication. And when you play as a team, all those other things come as an added bonus. Right now, everything seems to be falling into place, so we’ll just continue to work hard as a team, and everything else will take care of itself.”

De Rosario’s MVP odds skyrocketed Saturday, when he recorded the fastest hat trick in MLS history during a 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium, notching three goals and an assist in the game’s first 31 minutes.

In his seven years patrolling central midfield for United, Clyde Simms has had a front-row ticket to watch MVPs Christan Gomez (2006) and Luciano Emilio (2007), as well as Jaime Moreno, a D.C. legend who retired last year as the league’s all-time leading scorer.

When it comes to special performances, Simms said, “I’ve seen a lot of them - but not many quite like that.”

There are, of course, worthy candidates for MVP across the league, including New York’s Thierry Henry, Los Angeles’ Landon Donovan, Houston’s Brad Davis, Seattle’s Mauro Rosales and Dallas’ Brek Shea.

From a pure statistical standpoint, however, De Rosario stands alone.

The Canadian’s 13 tallies pace MLS, one ahead of Henry and Donovan. De Rosario also is the only double-digit goal-scorer this season with more than four assists - and he has 11.

“His instincts are pretty impressive out there,” coach Ben Olsen said. “He plays hard, he plays with passion, he’s entertaining, so he’s been a great addition.”

Since joining United in late June from New York (which acquired him in an April deal with Toronto), De Rosario has compiled 10 goals and six assists in 13 games while alternating between an attacking midfield role and playing up top.

Whether he’s picking his runs forward as a midfielder or dropping back as a striker, he enjoys the freedom to roam Olsen has afforded him.

“I feel a lot more comfortable in terms of the role Ben has me playing - a free role,” De Rosario said. “I think that’s one of my strong points, reading the game and the situation, how the play is going to develop, trying to get myself in the right space, and Benny has allowed me to do that.”

At one point during the summer, the club went more than a month without receiving a goal from anyone besides De Rosario. He scored six during the stretch, and United went 2-1-2.

“He’s my most valuable player right now,” Olsen said after Saturday’s match, before conceding, “I’m certainly extremely biased.”

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