Soccer

De Rosario says TFC contract offer was last straw

Newly acquired New York Red Bulls midfielder Dwayne De Rosario said Tuesday that he wasn't pleased with a contract offer he received from Toronto FC about a week before the season opener, and figured his days with the Canadian club were numbered.

Dwayne De Rosario says he knew it was time to move on from Toronto FC before the season opener.

The 32-year-old wasn't pleased with the team's contract offer he received about a week before the opener, and figured his days in Toronto were numbered.

"It was just an offer that more suited Toronto than myself, and it was one that I felt had some uncertainties," De Rosario said on a conference call Tuesday from New York. "I said, 'Enough's enough.' I didn't want to be a negative influence, I didn't want to be a bad guy in the locker-room. I would still play 100 per cent, but I just couldn't carry that weight on my shoulders and in my mind.

"I just needed to get some clarity and just play, so it had to come down to one of us making a decision."

Toronto FC pulled the trigger last Friday, trading its captain and the star midfielder to the New York Red Bulls.

The 11-year MLS veteran has gone from a team still searching for its first playoff appearance to a star-studded squad that's now the runaway favourite to win the MLS Cup.

De Rosario made his present felt quickly in his Red Bulls debut Saturday, assisting on Dane Richards' goal in a 1-1 draw with Houston.

De Rosario had been unhappy with his contract for a while, claiming Toronto reneged on certain promises made when they acquired him just over two seasons ago. He wanted "designated player" status, and a contract with guarantees. He threatened a boycott if he didn't receive a new contract.

"That's what you expect, a club to keep their hometown boy as comfortable as possible," he said. "I didn't sense that, so it was time to move on."

His contract remains unchanged. He'd like to be a designated player in New York — Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez occupy two of the team's three possible DP spots — and hopes his play on the field will help make that happen.

De Rosario made $443,750 US last season, a good chunk less than the $1.7 million teammate and designated player Julian de Guzman made.

Through all his frustrations, De Rosario said his decision to leave Toronto still didn't come easily.

"Obviously being in my hometown and from the great support we have in Toronto," De Rosario said. "But I just had to have some piece of mind, I couldn't play in a situation where I felt I wasn't being treated right. I had to make a tough choice and move forward."

The two-time MLS Cup MVP and two-time winner of the MLS goal of the year knows his move might have forever tarnished his image among his hometown fans.

"I think some fans will like me and some fans are going to dislike me, but at the end of the day I don't think anyone will question m]commitment and the 100 per cent I've given in every game," he said. "I played with every inch of energy to help [Toronto]. It's unfortunate it had to come down to this.

"I have to change my focus now and I'm happy to be with a great club."

Toronto received 21-year-old midfielder Tony Tchani, 26-year-old defender-midfielder Danleigh Borman and a first-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft in the De Rosario deal.

Both started in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Chivas USA, less than 24 hours after they arrived in Toronto.

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