In what has to be a first for any league's Most Valuable Player, the 2011 MLS MVP is Dwayne De Rosario -- a man who was traded twice and played for three different teams in two different countries this season before ending the year with DC United as the league's highest scorer. That makes him the only athlete in the history of North American professional sports to win an MVP award for a season in which he played for three different teams.
De Rosario began the year with TFC, his hometown club, but was dealt to New York on April 1 after just two games. From his central midfield spot he helped guide the Red Bulls to the top of the table by the end of April, but a prolonged, team-wide slump through May and June prompted RBNY to deal him to United for Dax McCarty.
His arrival in Washington lit the spark that propelled De Rosario to one of the most memorable hot streaks in league history. He racked up 13 goals and seven assists in his 18 games with D.C., giving him a total of 16 and 12 on the year. He was the only player in MLS to reach double-digits in both categories in 2011, finishing tied with Chris Wondolowski for the league lead in goals and placing fourth overall in assists.
Though two of the three teams he played for didn't make the playoffs and the third just barely eked in after he left, 33-year-old De Rosario's numbers are undeniable (he even notched a hat trick over a span of nine minutes against Salt Lake -- an MLS record). Plus, you can probably make the argument that just on the sheer number of teams he played for, he really was the league's most valuable player. Even though he made some enemies in Toronto with his check signing goal celebration last season during his contract negotiations and his harsh words for the city while on trial with Celtic during the offseason.
Here's the MVP campaign video DC United put together for him...
Houston's Brad Davis, Dallas' Brek Shea and the Galaxy's Landon Donovan rounded out the top four (in that order) in the MVP scoring, which was a weighted vote among clubs, media and players. Noticeably absent from even the top five: the league's second-leading assist leader, David Beckham (15 assists), and the league's third-leading goal scorer, Thierry Henry (14 goals). Also, the league's top teammate insulter, Rafa Marquez.
So with this award added to his Golden Boot, De Rosario can now set his sights on a new goal for next season: winning both awards after playing for four different teams in one year.