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De Rosario's free kick wins Goal of the Year


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De Rosario's free kick wins Goal of the Year

By Jason Halpin / MLSnet.com Staff

For the second straight season, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Dwayne De Rosario has won Major League Soccer's Sierra Mist Goal of the Year award, the league announced Wednesday. De Rosario earned the honor for his free kick blast in the final week of the season against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

De Rosario earned 36.51 percent of the votes cast in the final round on MLSnet.com, the league's official website. Over 121,000 total votes were cast by fans throughout the three-round process.

Just before halftime in the Quakes' 3-1 win over the Galaxy, De Rosario won a free kick about 25 yards from goal. Waving off teammates who approached to take the kick, the Canadian international took a long run up to the ball before striking it with all of his might. The ball hooked around the outside of the Galaxy wall and rocketed into the upper 90, still rising as it flew past helpless Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman.

"I was just thinking, 'I'm going to hit this ball as hard as I can,'" De Rosario said after the game. "It was one of my highlight goals off free kicks. I don't think I've ever scored a free kick like that."

The goal put an exclamation point on a remarkable season for De Rosario. Formerly a forward with the Quakes, he moved into an attacking midfield position early this season and blossomed into a hardworking player adept at pushing the pace of the game.

The Quakes won a team record 18 games and finished the season with 64 points, the second highest total in league history. De Rosario put his stamp on the game seemingly every time he took the field, leading the team in both goals (9) and assists (13) and earning a league MVP nomination.

Winning this season's Goal of the Year makes De Rosario the second player to win the award twice and the first to win in back-to-back seasons. D.C. United midfielder Marco Etcheverry notched the league's best goal in both 1997 and 1999. Last season, De Rosario won with an 18-yard volley against D.C. United in early August.

Finishing a distant second to De Rosario was FC Dallas striker Carlos Ruiz, who made it to the final five with a bicycle kick against D.C. in Week 9. New England Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey finished third with his flick and volley against the Chicago Fire in Week 5, Real Salt Lake striker Jason Kreis finished fourth with his 100th career goal -- a left-footed volley against the Kansas City Wizards in Week 20, and United's Freddy Adu rounds out the top five with his 50-yard run that started with a touch over the head of an RSL defender and ended with a cool finish in Week 28.

The Goal of the Year voting began Oct. 19 on MLSnet.com with 40 nominees; each of the 29 Sierra Mist Goal of the Week winners was included, in addition to 11 goals that missed out on the weekly award. After a week of voting, the field was narrowed to 10 goals, and another week later, those 10 were whittled to five finalists.

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