Toronto FC finally got their man.
The Major League Soccer team officially signed Dwayne De Rosario to a four-year contract on Thursday, bringing to an end the club's two-year chase of the star Canadian midfielder.
Toronto acquired De Rosario, a native of Scarborough (now part of Toronto), who began his pro career as a member of the semi-pro team Toronto Lynx in 1997, in a trade with the Houston Dynamo last month, but held off on unveiling him to the public until they signed the veteran midfielder to a contract extension — his new contract replaces the two-year deal he had with the club.
De Rosario, who turns 31 in May, said he hopes to finish his playing career in Toronto, while helping to "make Toronto FC a big name in pro sports in Canada and in MLS."
"This is definitely a dream come true for me, to be back here where I started my career," De Rosario told reporters. "Being in Houston and watching the first game here at BMO Field was something that me, as a passionate fan and a proud Canadian, it was a great day for me to see an MLS team here in Toronto."
De Rosario is considered one of the top players in the history of MLS.
The Canadian midfielder has scored 51 goals during his eight seasons in MLS and is a three-time league all-star. He has been a target for Toronto FC general manager Mo Johnston ever since the Scotsman joined the Canadian club in its inaugural MLS season in 2007.
"What we've got here today is a wonderful talent, an all-star. I think he's going to help our team immensely, on and off the field," Johnston said. "When you look at everything Dwayne has done in this league, I think it was very important to bring a big name here.
"I've been trying to get Dwayne for two years, and today is a very proud moment," Johnston added later.
De Rosario has a record of success, having won MLS championships with the San Jose Earthquakes (2001 and 2004) and Houston (2006 and 2007).
Toronto has failed to make the playoffs during their first two seasons, but De Rosario is confident he can help turn the Canadian team's fortunes around and lead them to the post-season.
"I'm looking forward to bringing my experience and my winning ways here to Toronto," De Rosario said. "I know they have huge fan support and I'm coming here to do the business to help Toronto first make the playoffs and potentially win a championship."
That's music to the ears of Toronto coach John Carver.
"He's a winner. He's won the league championship four times, as the season goes on that experience is vital to the other guys in the dressing room and that is another reason why he is here, because I want winners," Carver said.
Traditionally a central midfielder, De Rosario has also played as a striker during his career. Carver revealed he would use the upcoming pre-season to determine how he will deploy De Rosario, but didn't rule out using him up front.
"He's a fantastic goal-scorer," opined Carver. "When the games are tight he can open teams up and that's what we need."
De Rosario said he has no preference as to where he plays, and joked he would even play in net if it helps the team win.
Johnston confirmed reports that Toronto FC were on the verge of signing Argentine forward Pablo Vitti from Independiente, but the Toronto GM said negotiations have hit a snag and the deal is being held up by the Buenos Aires club.
Johnston also said the team's search for a central defender continues.
"We've been trailing one kid in England but he's proven difficult to get. We're exploring other avenues in MLS," Johnston revealed.