By JOSE M. ROMERO
CARSON, Calif. — His career already full of accomplishments, Dwayne De Rosario was nevertheless humble in accepting his 2011 MLS Most Valuable Player trophy Friday afternoon at the Home Depot Center.
Playing for three different teams in one season clearly had an effect on his perspective.
"I would like to thank first, my family, who stood by me throughout this difficult year with all the transitions," the 33-year-old midfielder from just outside Toronto said. "It hasn't been easy relocating from place to place. I'd like to thank the players, my supporting cast, who have really helped me to achieve this award.
"This is definitely the highest honor that I have ever received in my career and I humbly accept it," De Rosario said.
De Rosario won the award for the first time in his 11 seasons in the league and adds his latest piece of hardware to a trophy case that includes two MLS Cup MVPs, two Goal of the Year Awards and six Best XI designations, including this season.
De Rosario, also this year's Golden Boot winner, scored 16 goals and added 12 assists in three separate stints with Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.
The respect of other MLS players, who overwhelming voted for De Rosario (three times as many votes for him than any other candidate), meant a lot to him.
"It's a mutual respect," De Rosario said. "I'm a fan of the league as well, I don't just play in the league. I admire a lot of players in this league and to get that kind of respect from the players… that's the greatest feeling one could ever receive, is when fellow players identify with your hard work and dedication and commitment to not only on the field, but off the field as well, try to develop and grow this sport in across North America."
De Rosario was joined by his wife Brandy, 14-year-old daughter Asha and younger sons Osaze and Adisa at the trophy ceremony.
He talked about the many changes and adjustments he had to make going from team to team to team. And that was just the work part.
"Family relocating, schools, doctors, just living, adapting," he said. "All that you have to bear in mind and you have to do it overnight."
De Rosario is enjoying his time in the U.S. capital and hopes he has a longer-term future with DCU that includes adding to the club's tradition. He's under contract through next season and the club has an option after that.
"We do think that Dwayne has more than one year left in the tank at a very high level," team president Kevin Payne said, adding that he'll sit down with De Rosario's agent to talk about an extenstion soon.
Payne said the team had once pegged De Rosario as a prospect back in 2000. But Frank Yallop chose one spot ahead of DCU for San Jose in the supplemental draft that year, and De Rosario went there.
"I've never seen a better performance than what we got from Dwayne," Payne said. "We're very pleased for him and think he absolutely deserved this award."
Payne tried to acquire De Rosario from Toronto this season, then later worked out a deal with the Red Bulls, who needed salary cap room.
De Rosario also congratulated MVP vote-getters Brek Shea of FC Dallas and Brad Davis of Houston, then said he'd happily trade the trophy for the chance to play for the MLS Cup Sunday.
Though he didn't say it in so many words, being chosen MVP seemed to be sweet vindication for the way things ended for De Rosario in Toronto, his hometown club. Not long after scoring the 8,000th goal in MLS history, De Rosario was shipped to New York in a trade after reports said he sought more money from TFC.
"It was just poor handling more on the club's part than anything else," De Rosario said. "While I was on Toronto, and even up to the last couple of games… I could have easily handled it much differently. Believe me, it took a lot out of me to go up there (for the season opener in Vancouver) and perform 100 percent, but I know that at the end of the day, I owe it to the players and the fans."
De Rosario has no hard feelings toward fans in Toronto and looks forward to returning to BMO Field to play World Cup qualifiers for Canada there in the near future.