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Q&A: Dwayne De Rosario

So, how are you feeling?
Dwayne De Rosario: You know, sore right now!

You’re fresh off of Canada’s first game of 2013 – certainly not the result you were looking for, but what were some of your takeaways from it?
DeRo: I mean, we’re in the rebuilding process right now, which is very crucial for our development in the future of our national program. So, we’re looking at these games as a great opportunity for a lot of the new faces, a lot of the young guys to get that vital experience, playing against world-class competition. Especially the few making their mark in the U.S. – you know, you get to experience what it’s like to handle international competitions. So, first and foremost that is the objective is experience and then second of all is how we develop and improve from game to game and learn from our mistakes and improve on the things we need to improve on.

Which of the youngsters who earned their first cap the other day impressed you the most?
DeRo: I mean, you know, there are quite a few of them. I think the future of our national program is definitely bright. There are quite a few players that have the potential to do big things for our national team.

How did it feel to take the field in a Canada jersey for the first time since September?
DeRo: Yeah, it’s nice to be back. It’s nice to just be playing again. Honestly the time that I took my injury was, if any time was the wrong time it was at that time, but, you know, it’s just nice to be back – nice to get back in the gym, nice to be playing again with no fear. And I think I can continue into the season healthy and in shape and it’s just enough to get back on the field.

You’ll be facing a U.S. squad with a lot of guys from MLS that you see week-in and week-out. How will that sort of familiarity help you in your preparation?
DeRo: Well, it will help me because I know a lot of their weapons and I know a lot of the stuff they’re good at.  So I can pass some of that information on to help the guys out in terms of better preparing themselves mentally, where as in the past its plain to see where a lot of us didn’t know exactly how they play and how to face a situation. But playing this years team, it’s gonna be tough. I mean they’re fighting for World Cup qualifying spots right now and they’ve been working hard for two weeks and they’re coming in fit and ready to go. I mean, this is their first game. So I know a lot of the guys are looking at this as an opportunity to prove themselves and win a spot in Klinsmann’s book. So, it’s gonna be a tough challenge tomorrow.

You’ve never squared off against [teammate] Bill Hamid on the international level. So, if he’s on the field tomorrow, how tough do think it will be to get the ball in the back of the net?
DeRo: Well, hopefully it will tough for him stopping me. That’s my hope! You know? [laughs] But, you know Bill’s a good kid. He’s a great keeper and I’m happy for him. I’m happy he got the call up and I’m happy he’s getting that experience. And you know, yeah, we play on the same team, but tomorrow he’s gonna do his best to stop me, you know? And I’m gonna do my best to score and that’s what it’s all about.

He [Hamid] was saying earlier today that you’re always the guy they have to look out for once you have the ball. So, they’ve got some work cut out for them. What do you think his biggest strength is as a goalkeeper?
DeRo:  He’s a great shot blocker. He doesn’t give up a lot of rebounds. He’s a big boy, so he covers the net. He’s good at closing down angles. He’s got a lot of good qualities and he’s learned to understand the tempo and the pace of the game, in terms of when to slow it down and when to distribute. He’s definitely improving more and more every year. What’s most important, he’s a player that wants to learn and I think that’s very important.

How has being with Canada the last week or so prepared you for this upcoming MLS season, which is just a little over a month away?
DeRo: Well, I mean, it’s good for me for the fact that, like I said, getting playing again and playing games. You know, I think you can train – as we all know as professional athletes, we can train and train and train, but there is nothing like game fitness.  You can only get that from obviously playing games. So, that’s my biggest focus – getting back game fit. More so mentally fit than anything else. Physically I feel good. But mentally sharp and mentally fit is important, and I’m feeling good so far.

Last year, the team finished second in the East and was one stop shy of an MLS Cup appearance. What are some of your expectations and goals for the club this year?
DeRo: Bigger and better things! Definitely. To make it to the final this time and then the next step, of course, is to get to the MLS Cup. But first things first, it’s important we start the year off on the right foot. I know last year we didn’t have the best start that we had, but we improved as the year went on and that was important. But hopefully we can start off  at a good pace and maintain it throughout the season. So, that’s the focus. Can we can we start off well and maintain it throughout the season?

We’ve seen on Twitter that Bill [Hamid] and a few other teammates on the U.S. National Team have been having some epic FIFA 13 sessions during downtime at camp. What do you guys do on the Canadian side when you want to blow off a little steam?
DeRo: [laughs] Well, actually we play cards! Poker is the order of the day around here. So, we like to play cards, play poker and sometimes even break out the dominos one or two times.

Who’s winning most of those games?
DeRo: Me! [laughs] Yeah, Dejan [Jakovic] has won some games, so I have to give him his credit. But the majority, the majority is, you know, I’m, you know, winning a couple hands here and there, so it’s good! He’s been good this year to me.