Throughout the history of our beautiful game, we’ve seen several famous father-son duos tearing it up on the field. From Cesare & Paolo Maldini to Peter & Kasper Schmeichel to Alf-Inge Haaland and the great Erling Haaland, there are no shortage of familial ties in the beautiful game. But as far as the Canadian soccer scene goes, we’ve never seen one as powerful and game-changing as Dwayne De Rosario and his son Osaze, now claiming his name on the world stage for York United. Osaze De Rosario has been in immaculate form since the start of the 2022 CPL season, scoring 12 goals in his 28 matches across all competitions, leading the way for a vibrant and young York United team full of promise for the future.
Still only 21 years of age, Osaze has much to look forward to in an illustrious career surely set to come. So with that, we analyze the rising star, and assess his potential future for greatness in the sport. Here is our analysis.
POSITIONING & ROLE
Last week, we analyzed a similar front-man for Forge FC – Woobens Pacius. Woobens excels with his penalty box poacher-like instincts, and a keen eye for how to move into space to set himself up for the finish. Osaze excels in many of the same facets as the Forge man, particularly the way he comes to life in the eighteen yard box and finishes off chances with ease. The one major difference is that the 21-year-old is less refined in his movement forward, less of a natural poacher in the box, BUT more influential across other phases of the game. While remaining that centrally-focused target, De Rosario has a sound understanding of when to drop to receive the ball and pick up possession – something he’s exuded to magnificent effect all season long.
This aids in York’s ability to play vertically out through the back, knowing that he can be used as a back-to-goal target both on high-balls in the air, and low-driven passes into his feet. Dominick Zator is a player that excels when you give him space to carry the ball forward and spray passes, and it’s practically become an automatism for Osaze to seek space deeper down the field when his centre-back finds himself on the ball in space. In this sense, the centre-forward becomes more than just a ‘Fox in the Box’, waiting for the ball to find him in the box with little involvement through the thirds. Instead, he becomes capable of linking up with others creatively (a ‘Creative Link’) and nicely swaps in and out of that ‘False 9’ role when he’s served alongside a partner – such as Lisandro Cabrera.
The variability in his play therefore allows Martin Nash to set up with Osaze in any of the front four forward positions, integrating Mo Babouli and Cabrera into the mix where best suited for the match at hand. Babouli’s been a transformative figure since entering the frame, but before that, Osaze frequently played up top alongside Cabrera, or shifted to either a wide role or the ’10’ slot. Now he’s reclaimed that lone top spot at the front of the attack, and York are thriving under the greater creativity that Babouli offers in behind to feed Osaze’s superb finishing.
As noted, Osaze is a striker that excels in picking up possession from build-up to creation, and linking up with his teammates. He’s constantly asking to receive the ball, and always endeavouring to make himself useful, where he can then use his close control and exceptional mobility to shimmy his way out of pressurized situations. At 6’2, the Canadian has a nice understanding of how to use his speed and strength to hold off opponents, before dribbling forward to play through-passes into the path of his mates. More than decent in the air, De Rosario has won 50% of his aerial duels this season, and exudes superb chest control to take down passes under pressure and set up the next action.
But while exuding those ‘Target Man’ like qualities from time to time, he still makes himself more of that ‘False 9 – Creative Link’ presence, ghosting into attacking positions at the right moment. He likes to create distance from his marking defenders in the final third whenever possible, giving himself half a yard of space for the shot.
By ghosting in late, he will naturally leave himself more room to receive in positions unmarked, and away from potential blockers.
Further illustrating the point, his heatmap nicely spreads across the pitch, including in that centre-circle where he’s often likely to drop toward the ball and pick up passes out from the back. With that desire to find the ball, he rarely becomes detached from the midfield and defensive lines, always thinking about how and when to create space based on the four elements of the game.
The one major change needed will be in his ability to hold his runs and watch that offside line. Only Joe Mason and Cory Bent have been caught offside more times per game than Osaze’s 0.84 this season. This is a problem for York, as the 21-year-old often finds himself in great positions to receive on the outside of defenders, if only he could time that run to greater perfection. Many of these offside moments also come in the immediacy of attacking transitions, ruining York’s ability to effectively counter-attack.
But as his heatmap indicates, when Osaze nicely times his runs into space, he will frequently pick up passes over the top into the wide channels (particularly in those half-spaces). He’s also capable shifting to the side of the ball to aid in the overload and link the play, rather than just holding a strictly central position.
So while he comes alive in the box and his poacher instincts might be the best part of his game, De Rosario allows himself to become more of a complete centre-forward with his overall approach. This has manifested in 4 assists across his 28 matches, and a nice tally of 0.85 key passes per 90. When compared against his fellow CPL peers, it’s clear to see why he’s rated so highly.
|Player||MP||G + A||Goal p/ Shot||KP||Off.||Dis.||Rating|
|Osaze De Rosario||25||0.66||22.0||0.85||0.99||1.65||7.09|
From the above table, it’s also easy to see why Aribim Pepple garnered so much attention from English clubs in his seven-game hot-streak for Cavalry FC. But of note, Pepple was a less creative, and a less dynamic player across the phases of the game. Despite having fewer touches per game than both Osaze and Woobens, Pepple was dispossessed 3.01 times per 90 in that ‘Target Man’ role. This is an area Osaze could also improve, but not one that has become particularly worrying given his slightly greater influence in possession.
Creating more than double the chances of Woobens Pacius – who as we mentioned is more of that ‘Fox in the Box’ presence, remains vitally encouraging. If he can also boast a better goal conversion rate and more goals and assists per 90 than his closest comparison in Pacius, that is also a great sign for his future.
It’s also encouraging how much variety De Rosario has brought to his goal accumulation. His first two goals for the club were thunderbolts from outside the eighteen, and he’s followed that up by scoring with his head, left foot, and from the spot this season.
His goal against Cavalry is my personal favourite, as it nicely showcases his use of strength to put his body in front of a bullying defender in Karifa Yao, his aerial ability to nicely head the play on, his dribbling away from pressure, and the subsequent awareness of when to find the back of the net for the finish.
Like any penalty box poacher, the 21-year-old thrives in the box, on his stronger right foot. His strong finishing does however mean that the power he gets behind his strikes makes it incredibly difficult to stop. Meanwhile, the variety in his play will only allow York greater attacking threat, dynamism and variability, making it all the more difficult for opposition teams to know what he’s thinking.
Out of possession, Osaze’s mobility allows him to be a capable and willing presser. At the top of the attack, he holds that essential role of being the first line of defense, and so his ability to pick up the intensity when necessary subsequently allows others in behind to follow suit.
He will actively hunt down loose balls in the wide areas or failed long passes into the wide channels, and ensure his opponents have limited time and space in moments of transition. Sometimes this manifests in the Canadian becoming overzealous in the tackle, and leaving a foot in on his opponent. He’s caused 1.9 fouls per game this season, picking up 4 bookings this season.Embed from Getty Images
But more positively, like his attacking play, he never lets himself become disengaged with the defensive side of the game. He frequently takes part in pressing the deep-lying operators surrounding him all the way into his team’s low-block, endeavouring to limit time and space for them to play the ball around.
Not only does he continue that mindset into the deepest of defensive phases, but the Canadian has won possession 0.7 times per 90 in the final third – the fourth most for his team.
However, one of his key limitations is that even when he finds himself in sound positions to time his tackle and win the ball, he opts for the use of his body instead. Such a strong ox of a player, Osaze excels in bullying defenders off the ball in attacking phases. But simultaneously, it’s one of the main reasons why he’s picked up so many needless fouls this season. Here’s an excellent moment where Osaze has pressed from the front, recovered position and gotten himself into a great position to make a tackle.
But instead of putting a foot in at the right moment, he bodies Garven Metusala to the ground. This reliance on strength makes him an imposing presence for opposition centre-backs to contend with, but it could be refined to cause fewer fouls, and win possession in the final third to a greater extent. After all, only 2 tackles won in 25 matches is not all that impressive.Embed from Getty Images
More encouragingly, he’s made more clearances (14) than any other forward in the division, becoming an integral figurehead to defending set-pieces. He’s also only found himself dribbled past 0.66 times per 90, as part of that imposing frame and strong work ethic when bearing down on opponents.
Like the attacking side of his game, De Ro still has work to do before entering into the echelon of Canadian strikers. His defensive proactivity reaches nice highs, but now it’s about turning that positive desire into positive success for both him and his team in winning back possession.
Osaze De Rosario is one of the preeminent rising stars in the Canadian soccer scene, and should be destined for a move to the MLS or beyond. He will need to amplify his ability on the ball and make the most out of his vision and creativity in the final third to reach that next level, where his assist tallies could easily double if he pays close attention to how and when to set others up for the finish. Meanwhile, his ability to read the line and stay onside will need to improve, as will his prioritization of aggression in defensive phases, rather than smart angling and timing.
But for a 21-year-old, Osaze De Rosario is a remarkable finisher, and a nicely combative centre-forward that dovetails well into various avenues of the game. He’s made himself more than just a penalty box poacher this season, remaining a key presence in possession throughout the phases. Already York’s record-breaking scorer, Osaze De Rosario is certainly one to watch, and the world just might be at his fingertips if his development continues from here.
So there it is! A tactical analysis of the fabulous Osaze De Rosario for York United. Be sure to check out more of our Player Analyses, CANPL content, and follow on social media @mastermindsite to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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