De Rosario relishing leadership role with young Canada side

The veteran midfielder had to watch from afar as Canada crashed out of World Cup Qualifying last year, but he hasn't lost his passion for representing his country.
TUCSON, Ariz. – Canada is very much headed into the unknown on Saturday as a largely unproven team will take on a Danish side on both teams’ first game of 2013.

It’s perhaps somewhat fortunate that the side Canada will come up against is very much an experimental one like its own with a young Danish team made up of domestically-based players.

Both eyes are firmly placed on the future as Canada is essentially now looking to build for its 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. But the likes of Dwayne De Rosario, Terry Dunfield and Lars Hirschfeld are a few old hands who have taken in active role in helping to groom this next generation of players.

“I spoke to all three to say they have a responsibility to our younger players to lead by example on the training pitch,” said interim head coach Colin Miller, who has been pleased with what he’s seen in this past week. “Show the right attitude and commitment, and the pride it takes to wear our logo on their shirt.

"I will have to say all three of them have been great examples.”

For De Rosario, there was no question as to his availability for camp given the option. He had to watch on from his home near Washington, D.C., as Canada’s World Cup aspirations came to a crashing end. In a perfect world, De Rosario says he’ll want to be with the team in its next qualifying campaign. While that may change given the nature of the game and time itself, for now he’s just happy imparting some of the wisdom he’s gained about the international game over his career.

“I wanted to get back. I kind of felt I left the last World Cup qualifier definitely unaccomplished for myself,” he said. “I’m happy be with the national team with some new young faces and see what the future has for our national program, and how I can help them and help aid to develop these guys with my experience and my passion.”

The last time De Rosario played for Canada, he limped off with a knee injury in Canada’s 2-0 loss to Panama. And while club team D.C. United is supportive of his national team commitments, the coaching staff doesn’t want him to return to the club in the same condition as last time.

These two games against the Danes and the Americans next week are also a chance for him to test that injured knee which he claims is holding up well to the stresses of playing.

“Thankfully I have coaches that are experienced and played for their country,” he said. “They didn’t stress the injury part. That comes with the game and sometimes that can’t be avoided.

"They said just be smart and try not to get injured.”