Dwayne De Rosario of the New York Red Bulls vies...

Dwayne De Rosario of the New York Red Bulls vies for possesion with Cameron Weaver #15 of the Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena. (April 2, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

HARRISON, N.J. -- True to the parent company's name and aggressive marketing campaigns, the Red Bulls continued their caffeinated strategy for making a Major League Soccer impact by introducing the latest piece to what they hope is a championship puzzle Saturday.

Dwayne De Rosario, the 32-year-old Canadian national team veteran and two-time MLS All-Star obtained in a trade with Toronto on Friday, provided an immediate energy jolt in a 1-1 tie with the Houston Dynamo, assisting on the Red Bulls' goal by Dane Richards seconds after he came off the bench to start the second half.

Houston answered immediately when Red Bulls goalie Bouna Coundoul's miscalculation allowed Cam Weaver an easy chip-shot score from 10 yards. But what had been a scoreless, desultory affair changed dramatically with the appearance of De Rosario, acquired in exchange for two prospects from Africa, Tony Tchani of Cameroon and Danleigh Borman of South Africa.

"He creates so many opportunities for us," said the Jamaican Richards, who turned De Rosario's lead pass into a score in the 46th minute. "That's what we want."

Compared to Thierry Henry, the international French star signed last year, De Rosario may not move the needle on America's still developing IQ for the sport. De Rosario, in fact, couldn't even measure up to the recent fuss over 18-year-old Juan Agudelo, the Jersey-raised striker whose goal won the Red Bulls' season opener two weeks ago and who scored to salvage the U.S. national team's 1-1 tied with Argentina seven days later.

But in the fragile soccer ecosystem, Red Bulls officials saw De Rosario as an essential missing link. "As you know," Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler said, "We've been on the lookout for a true No. 10 for some time, someone with a creative foot, who can be a game-winner, scoring goals, preparing goals for others."

De Rosario wore No. 11, actually, but soccer people understand that a "true No. 10" -- worn by the Lionel Messis and Wayne Rooneys of the world -- exemplifies the attacking midfield position, essentially the offensive motor.

"He changed the game," Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. "Those short kill passes, 10-12 yards. That will help Thierry quite a bit. I think De Rosario is the last piece for us."

With De Rosario quarterbacking, Henry lurking, Agudelo dancing through defenders, the Red Bulls (1-0-2) spent virtually the entire second half at the Houston keeper's doorstep. In the last four minutes alone, De Rosario's header went barely wide, Henry's header was tipped barely over the crossbar and Agudelo's cross was popped just high by Roy Miller.

In the 15 years that the MLS has crowned a champion, it never has been the Red Bulls (or their predecessor, the MetroStars). But Soler has assembled a global village to take on this slice of the world; the Red Bulls' 11 starters were born in 11 different countries (though the Colombia-born was the second American in that group.)

When the Canadian De Rosario entered the game, that made 12 countries. And a fellow especially fluent in soccer.

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