D.C. United midfielder Dwayne De Rosario has won the Volkswagen MLS MVP award for the first time in his career. De Rosario, who scored 13 goals (including two hat tricks) and recorded seven assists in 18 games for United in 2011, beat out Brad Davis of the Houston Dynamo, Brek Shea of FC Dallas, Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy, and Mauro Rosales of the Seattle Sounders for the honor, which was voted on by players, media members, and club representatives.
"For me, this is the most meaningful individual honor of my career," said De Rosario in a statement issued by the club. "I couldn't have achieved this without my teammates, and I'm grateful to the players, coaches, fans, media and people at MLS for recognizing me. That said, I'm disappointed not to be playing in the MLS Cup Playoffs right now, and my goal is to get D.C. United back to where it belongs in 2012."
The results of the voting were announced by MLS early Friday morning and De Rosario's image was splashed across a full-page Volkswagen advertisement in morning editions of USA Today. The Canadian international is the first United player to win the league's MVP award since Luciano Emilio in 2007 and the third Black-and-Red player in league history to do so (Christian Gomez in 2006 was the other).
De Rosario began 2011 with Toronto FC, but was traded to New York Red Bulls on April 1, just two games into the season. De Rosario recorded two goals and four assists in 13 games for New York before being dealt to D.C. United in a late June trade that sent midfielder Dax McCarty to the Big Apple.
"Dwayne changed our entire team this season," said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen in a statement. "With him we were always one play away from changing the game. He is truly a special player and he deserves this honor. This award is long overdue - Dwayne has been one of the best players in MLS for quite some time."
Though D.C. United failed to make the playoffs, making De Rosario the first MLS MVP in league history whose team missed the postseason, the Ontario native racked up a slew of individual honors during the course of his time in D.C. He was named MLS Player of the Week three times by the North American Soccer Reporters and was also named MLS Player of the Month for July. At the end of the 2011 season, De Rosario was presented with the MLS Golden Boot for his 16 goals and 12 assists, which beat out the 16 goals and three assists recorded by Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes.