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Rudi Schuller: TFC signals intent with De Rosario return

Oh, what could have been.

Almost exactly five years ago, Dwayne De Rosario was traded to Toronto FC in a blockbuster deal that sent shockwaves throughout Major League Soccer.

Then at the height of his powers as one of the league's most dominant players, De Rosario was supposed to be the centrepiece of a TFC side that had redefined the paradigm of the North American circuit. With a blistering shot, tricky feet and a keen nose for goal, "DeRo" was supposed to be the guy who led TFC to as much on-field success as the club had been experiencing off it.

Through the first two seasons of the club's existence, BMO Field was a raucous bandbox of passion unparalled throughout MLS. The only thing that was missing was the winning — indeed, the first couple of years featured some dreadful soccer from the Reds — and the Scarborough boy was going to come in and help change that for the better.

It didn't happen, of course, but not because of De Rosario.

He did everything expected of him. He scored buckets of goals in his two full seasons in red, so much so that he still stands as Toronto's all-time leading scorer. He single-handedly lifted TFC to its first trophy with a Herculean effort in the final match of the 2009 Canadian Championship. 

Yet despite all of that, De Rosario was not able to help TFC to a winning season in the league, and ultimately his two years in Toronto ended just as the club's other five seasons — without a playoff appearance.

Instead, he left on soured terms with his hometown team. An ugly public salary dispute hastened De Rosario's departure in 2011 and he continued to be successful at rival clubs, all while TFC fumbled increasingly toward irrelevance through repeated failure.

It is with all of this in mind that we consider the move made this week by Toronto to bring back its prodigal son, a transaction that has yet to be officially rubber-stamped by the league but is said to be all but completed.


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