CARSON, Calif. — No matter how many times Dwayne De Rosario changed Major League Soccer jerseys this year, he put together an MVP season in every new color.
The D.C. United midfielder was named MLS' most valuable player on Friday, capping an unusual season in which he was traded twice.
Even while moving from Toronto FC to the New York Red Bulls to D.C. United in a three-month span, De Rosario became the league's leading scorer with an MLS-best 16 goals and 12 assists. The 11-year MLS veteran is the first Canadian to win the award, and the first player to win it from a team that missed the postseason.
"Believe me, it took a lot out of me to go out there and perform at 100 percent," De Rosario said while accepting his trophy at Home Depot Center, the site of Sunday's MLS Cup. "I knew once I crossed the lines, I had to give it all for every team."
De Rosario received 72.72 percent of voting by media, players and club officials, with the percentage of each group totaled. Houston's Brad Davis was second at 43.66 percent, Dallas youngster Brek Shea finished third, and Los Angeles midfielder Landon Donovan was fourth.
De Rosario, the son of Guyanese immigrants to Scarborough, Ontario, became the second player in a North American major league to win an MVP in a season he was traded. Joe Thornton won the NHL's Hart Trophy in the 2005-06 season after the Boston Bruins traded him to the San Jose Sharks.
Few could argue De Rosario's credentials for the award after a remarkable MLS career with five clubs ever since he failed to catch on in the German Bundesliga in 1998.
De Rosario is a record six-time selection for MLS' Best XI, and he has won four MLS Cup championships — two with the San Jose Earthquakes, and two more after the franchise moved to Houston and became the Dynamo in 2006. He's the only player to win two MLS Cup MVP awards, in 2001 and 2007.
"If I could exchange this to play on Sunday, I would in a heartbeat," De Rosario said. "I've never played for personal achievements. I play for team accomplishments."
De Rosario joined his hometown Toronto FC in 2009, but angered the team brass when he joined Scottish club Celtic for offseason training last December. Toronto ordered De Rosario home, and he reportedly asked for a better contract.
Instead, Toronto dealt De Rosario to New York, where he teamed up with Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. Although De Rosario formed a friendship with Henry, the club didn't believe the two superstars could thrive on the same field, trading De Rosario to D.C. just 87 days and 13 games after acquiring him.
De Rosario played well at every stop despite the constant uprooting of his life with his wife and three children. He finished up strong with United, scoring 13 goals in 18 games despite missing the playoffs.
He finished tied with San Jose's Chris Wondolowski for the league lead in goals, and was the only MLS player to reach double figures in both goals and assists.
"Different systems, different coaching, different philosophies, different teammates, everything," De Rosario said, shaking his head. "Fortunately, I had people everywhere that took me into their team and allowed me to adapt. I'm happy with where I ended up, with a great organization and great teammates."
De Rosario is D.C. United's third league MVP in six years, but the club is in upheaval with concerns about its lease and facilities at RFK Stadium. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has said the team might have to move next season to another stadium in the Washington-Baltimore metroplex.
At least De Rosario knows a little bit about relocating.