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DeRo gets a new deal
by Ridge Mahoney, January 23rd, 2009 7AM

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[MLS] In its first two seasons, Toronto FC has consistently packed its stadium and turned a profit, which are two accomplishments much more established MLS teams can only dream about. In year three, it is committed to getting things right on the field, and completed a vital step in that process by signing attacker Dwyane De Rosario, a native of nearby Scarborough, Ont., to a new contract.

Terms of the four-year deal aren't known. What is known is that TFC didn't upgrade De Rosario to a Designated Player, as D.C. United and Columbus have done with Luciano Emilio and Guillermo Barros Schelotto, respectively. But since the new contract supersedes the two years that were remaining on his previous deal, under league rules it can use allocation money to increase his compensation, and/or buy down his cap number.

A source said DeRosario turned down a trade to Toronto two years ago that would have made him a DP at a salary of $500,000 per year. Since TFC is rather flush with allocation money it has accumulated through trades as well as missing the playoffs in its first two seasons, it's likely De Rosario is making more than he turned down back then.

"We are absolutely delighted to get this deal done," said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnson in a team press release. "We worked long and hard with all parties involved in coming to an agreement with Dwayne. This new deal means he's going to be wearing a Toronto FC shirt for many years to come, and we couldn't be happier."

In eight seasons, De Rosario has scored 51 goals and 42 assists in 186 regular season games. He helped San Jose win the 2001 MLS Cup in his first MLS season and repeated that feat with the Quakes in 2003, and with Houston in 2006 and 2007. He's scored five goals and five assists in 23 playoff games, and his postseason strikes include the game-winners in the 2001 and 2007 finals.

"You'd never know what to expect with Dwyane," says U.S. midfielder Ricardo Clark, a former teammate with the Quakes and Dynamo. "He was on another level. He's definitely a unique dude and that reflects in his game. He's the type of player you can't go to sleep on because at any moment he can make you pay for it.

"Early in his career, he was a forward, and his experience as a forward helped him be that much more dynamic as an attacking mid. For the past three or four years he's scored goals like a forward. That was definitely a plus for him and the whole team."

De Rosario, 30, has played 53 matches for Canada and scored 15 goals. He helped Canada win the 2000 Gold Cup and has been named Canadian Player of the Year three straight times (2005-7). TFC traded defender Julius James and allocation money (between $200,000 and $250,000 according to a source) to Houston a month ago to get him.

"People don't always realize that when you're building a team, it takes time," says Johnston, who served as TFC's head coach in its inaugural 2007 season before turning over the reins to John Carver. "I think this year the fans and people of Toronto are expecting a lot from us, and the moves we've made at the SuperDraft and getting players like Dwayne are certainly steps in the right direction.



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