PHILADELPHIA – Picking an all-star game captain is kind of like picking one flavor from a movie theater-sized package of jelly beans: There are a lot of options.
For D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, who’s in charge of the MLS All-Stars, it was an especially difficult decision, considering the 2012 squad is loaded with veterans like Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Kyle Beckerman and Dwayne De Rosario.
But during the squad’s first training session, Monday morning at the NovaCare Complex here, Olsen revealed that he had made his choice and that De Rosario will wear the captain’s armband for Wednesday’s game against Chelsea FC at PPL Park (8:30 pm ET, ESPN2).
“He’s been in quite a few of these,” Olsen said “I could have picked a whole bunch of guys. There are a lot of good leaders around here.”
While there certainly are many good leaders on the MLS team, De Rosario is the only one who participated in the 2006 All-Star Game, which is the last time Chelsea were the opponent. Not only that, the D.C. United attacker scored the game-winning goal in the MLS All-Stars’ 1-0 victory that day.It’s something the seven-time all-star and reigning MLS MVP still thinks about.
“It was an unbelievable moment to have the opportunity to play against Chelsea … when they were a world powerhouse,” De Rosario said. “For our league, that was the first time we played a major club like Chelsea in the All-Star Game. And for me, at the time, it was huge. To get the opportunity to first be selected as an All-Star was great, and then to get the opportunity to play and score the game-winning goal was pretty much icing on the cake.”
Will having that personal experience help De Rosario when he takes the field opposite Chelsea again on Wednesday?
“Well, that was ’06,” De Rosario said. “Obviously you look around here and a lot of guys have all-star experience and a lot of guys are well-established in their career. I don’t think we’re lacking in that department.”
Olsen also noted that De Rosario scoring the game-winner against Chelsea six years ago is not something he’s really thinking about. Not to mention he is excited to watch one of his own players at D.C. United perform on the grand stage, once again.
“He’s one of the guys in the league that’s very special and fun to watch,” Olsen said. “I’m going to sit back and enjoy the show.”
As captain, the 34-year-old De Rosario will certainly try to put on a show – while representing United, his native Canada and the league as best as he knows how.
“To be recognized as the captain is a huge honor,” he said. “Hopefully I can go out there and represent everyone well.”
E-mail Dave Zeitlin at email@example.com.