January 4, 2012

In 2011, De Rosario was better than Chan

by Dan Bilicki In: Olympics, Soccer

Unlike most sites or papers that awarded their Athlete of the Year before 2011 ended, I find it only appropriate to actually wait until the entire year had run its course before doling out the award.

My choice isn’t going to be the most popular, mainly because the man himself isn’t exactly the best person out there. He played for three different clubs in 2011 as well as represented Canada in international play. He was the MVP of the league he competed in and demonstrated excellent athletic ability time after time.

He is Dwayne De Rosario.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Patrick Chan is a fine choice too. But, like last year when I argued that Georges St. Pierre shouldn’t have been the Athlete of 2010 after competing in just two fights, I can bring up the same for Chan in 2011.

Chan is a fine athlete and great at what he does, but he is a figure skater and 2011 was a non-Olympic year. Chan only competed in five events – even though he did win them all. Many will argue that Chan spends a lot of time training and that should be counted towards his resume, but it’s not like De Rosario just sat around on his couch eating pizza when it wasn’t game time.

While Chan truly competed for one hour (a rough estimate) in 2011, De Rosario was on the pitch for 2,781 minutes. That’s roughly 84 minutes per game, or 24 more minutes per day that Chan competed in total.

Many don’t De Rosario because of his constant contract demands and the fact that he essentially forced his way out of his hometown team, Toronto FC. He was traded from the Reds to the Red Bulls of New York, where he kept up his fine form before again asking for a better contract and was dealt to D.C. United.

But are De Ro’s contract demands really too much? He has proven his worth time and time again and is arguably making hundreds of thousands less than he deserves. It’s just that in MLS, if you want to make the big money, a team has to make you their Designated Player, a tag that no team apparently finds the Canadian midfielder worthy of.

Yet, somehow, he was named the Most Valuable Player in MLS. Would his value decrease if he was getting paid more? Hardly.

His 16 goals in 2011 also earned him the Golden Boot for leading the league (although he was tied with Chris Wondolowski) and his 12 assists were fourth best.

Oh, and during his spare time in the summer, he found time to captain Team Canada at the Gold Cup, so he has that going for him too. How many other athletes can actually say they did that in their sports in 2011? Not too many unless you count the world juniors team who choked away gold or the second-rate tournament teams.

With Canada, he was unable to lead the team out of the group stages in the Gold Cup, but did help them advance to the next round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. He also tied Dale Mitchell for the all-time lead in international goals for Canada when he netted his 19th in November.

Patrick Chan may have been the easy answer for 2011, but Dwayne De Rosario was the correct one.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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