Dwayne DeRosario 3

A Test Of Leadership For Popular Captain

TORONTO — Dwayne De Rosario eclipsed a major Toronto FC milestone last Sunday at Colorado. The only thing is it was probably the most unceremonious of occasions -- he didn’t even know about the feat until after the game.

De Rosario’s penalty-kick saw him surpass talismanic striker Danny Dichio’s all-time franchise scoring record of 14 goals. But ever the consummate team player, “De Ro” preferred to focus on team results in the wake of a 3-1 loss.

“There’s not much pride in scoring the team’s goals and not getting wins,” De Rosario told Toronto FC TV after training on Friday. “I rather see wins than leading the team in goals, but it is what it is so far.”

DeRosario will need to instill that same mindset into his teammates as the team gets set to face some stern tests in the coming week.

TFC will host a tough Seattle Sounders FC side on Sunday before taking on the USSF 2nd Division’s Montreal Impact at home Wednesday in the opener of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, Canada’s qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Champions League. Then, the team has to fly to Utah to take on defending MLS champions Real Salt Lake just three days later.

The formidable stretch will be a major test of De Rosario’s captaincy not long into his tenure. But he seems to be saying and doing all the right things to prepare the team.

“I’m trying to do whatever I can to keep these guys motivated and keep these guys focused and to create that chemistry, which I think is a little lacking right now, but that will come with games and training,” he said. “You’re starting to see a little bit more of improvement in terms of the understanding of each others’ game and ball movement and the movement of the ball, which needs to improve, and that hunger to get on the ball and want to make a difference, but we spoke this week and, hopefully, we’ll see a good response come Sunday.”

It would be easy for 1-3 TFC to look past the Sounders and ahead to the rival Impact. But De Rosario will have to maintain his side’s focus on the Sounders, especially after what transpired at BMO Field last season in the first meeting between the two.

Sigi Schmid’s squad embarrassed TFC in likely one of the home side’s poorest showings of the season. De Rosario will remind everyone of that, but with the return of Freddie Ljunberg and the Sounders’ two-headed strike force of Freddy Montero and Steve Zakuani, retribution won’t be easy.

Then the Impact come looking to upset TFC as they did in capturing the 2008 Canadian title. Though only in its third year, the NCC has become a hotly contested tournament with defending champ TFC, the Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps fighting for Canadian bragging rights on top of the country’s lone berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.

De Rosario shouldn’t have trouble charging his teammates, but he’ll have to ensure a sense of entitlement doesn’t settle into the locker room, something that hurt the team in the inaugural 2008 tournament.

If that wasn’t enough, De Rosario also has to get a tired team to focus and mentally prepared to take on Real Salt Lake, again in high altitude. It’s a lot to ask for a new captain heading into just his fourth week in the role.

But so far, the Toronto native has passed with flying colors. On the field, he has scored all four of the team’s goals so far this season and done the things a captain needs to do. Off the pitch, he has been the consummate professional facing the media with courtesy and the fans with sheer enthusiasm. Perhaps most importantly, his hunger is clear.

“As a winner and a guy that likes to win, patience can only go so far," he said. "So even within our team we know that our patience for getting results is, I wouldn’t say running thin, but we want to get results for ourselves. We know we have quality on this team, we have quality in this organization and it’s just putting that chemistry together.”