In his first 90 minutes as a member of D.C. United, Dwayne De Rosario experienced the Black-and-Red's 2011 season in microcosm. There were moments of undeniable brilliance (a wondergoal from Andy Najar, a reflex save from Bill Hamid), and there were moments that made a watcher wonder if this team would ever put it all together (a comical own goal, and a second goal conceded late on to deny United three points at home yet again).
So it wasn't surprising that when De Rosario finally emerged from the innermost portions of the RFK Stadium dressing room almost an hour after the final whistle had gone, he had already mastered the postgame quote formula already used by many D.C. United players this campaign.
"There were a lot of pluses and there were a lot of things that we need to work on," the Canadian international said.
Considering that De Rosario only arrived in Washington Thursday morning and entered the field at RFK Saturday evening with only one honest training session under his belt, his performance against Philadelphia was quite remarkable. He played the full 90 minutes and set up D.C. United's first goal with a fantastic run and well-placed pass to a wide-open Josh Wolff. Wolff, who is nothing if not self-aware, recognized De Rosario's part in the goal by letting the latter perform his signature duck-walking celebration while the former American international pantomimed filming it.
"A guy like Dwayne can pull plays off as an individual and score goals," Wolff said after the game. "He's capable of bringing flair and creativity to the attacking area of the field."
Another man whose life was made easier by De Rosario's presence Saturday was Clyde Simms, who seemed to struggle to define his role playing alongside Dax McCarty, who was shipped to New York this past week in exchange for De Rosario.
"[When McCarty] was here, I tried to play a little bit more of a two-way game, and that was difficult for me and for Dax, because he'd played with five midfielders [in Dallas]" Simms said. "Now, I can just focus on sitting back and clogging spaces [for the opponent]." While much of the focus was on De Rosario's offensive talents, Simms was most anxious to see what De Rosario could provide the team when tracking back on defense.
"He's been around the block," Simms said of his new teammate. "And he's smart about playing defense. He's not just running at guys. He's always anticipating and trying to block off passing lanes."
The most potentially promising aspect of the De Rosario experience could be the effect the veteran has on 18-year-old Andy Najar. Najar started the move that culminated in Wolff's goal with a pass that found De Rosario on the edge of the Philadelphia penalty area, and De Rosario returned the favor in the second half by playing Najar into space at midfield seconds before the Honduran's stunning goal, which temporarily restored D.C. United's one-goal lead.
"He has a lot of experience, and it's great to play alongside him," the ever-polite Najar said through a translator.
"For a small kid like that, he has a boot on him," De Rosario said in kind.
But at the end of the evening, what mattered most to D.C. United's latest big-name acquisition was that he had gotten the first game out of the way, and he hoped there would be many more to come.
"When I look at this jersey and see four starts [for United's four MLS Cups] and I wanted to add one or two more stars to it. Hopefully it happens."