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De Rosario trade makes sense to Red Bulls

Dwayne De Rosario Dax McCarty
New York Red Bulls' Dwayne De Rosario and DC United's Dax McCarty have traded places.
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Ives Galarcep

Ives Galarcep is a 14-year veteran of the American soccer beat. He created and operates the popular American soccer blog, Soccer By Ives, which was voted Best American Soccer Blog by US Soccer in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ives was also voted Best Football Writer by SoccerLens in 2010. 
 

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When the New York Red Bulls acquired Dwayne De Rosario back in April, he was seen as the missing piece to a championship puzzle for a loaded Red Bulls squad.

MLS: June 23-25

 
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Less than three months later, the Red Bulls have decided the piece didn’t fit.

The Red Bulls traded De Rosario to D.C. United on Monday, dealing the Canadian to D.C. for young central midfielder Dax McCarty.

On balance, the trade looks lopsided, what with De Rosario considered one of the league’s best attacking players, and a multiple MLS Cup winner while McCarty is a young midfielder who has struggled for playing time on a middle-of-the-pack D.C. United side.

A closer look reveals that the trade should help give the Red Bulls the flexibility, both with cap space and an international player slot freed up by the departure of De Rosario, to address other issues on the team.

The Red Bulls’ most pressing need is in goal, where goalkeepers Bouna Coundoul and Greg Sutton have both struggled considerably. With a designated player slot available, the Red Bulls could be tempted to find an impact net-minder, perhaps a player like U.S. national team goalkeeper and free agent Marcus Hahnemann.

The trade was the second of two pulled off by D.C. United on Monday. D.C. also added defender Brandon McDonald from San Jose in a trade for Allocation Money. In De Rosario, United is hoping to have added the kind of attacking midfielder who can drive a D.C. attack loaded on the wings and up top. McDonald is a tough centerback cut loose by a San Jose squad with depth in central defense. He should be able to start, which could allow D.C. to keep rookie Perry Kitchen in a defensively midfield role.

The deal makes D.C. the third team De Rosario has played for this season, and as a player in search of a new contract, the former Houston Dynamo star should have his chance to prove he’s worth a big-money contract. He will also have to prove that he’s more impact player than troublemaker after leaving Toronto FC in controversial fashion, and after leaving New York after less than three months.

Just what the trade means for New York won’t be known until the club makes use of the international slot and salary cap relief created by the deal. Unless and until the Red Bulls make an impact acquisition or two, trading De Rosario will look like an admission of failure in acquiring DeRosario in the first place. New York traded away highly-regarded young midfielder Tony Tchani, defender Danleigh Borman and a first-round pick for DeRosario, a price that has to yield more than three months of DeRosario and McCarty.

McCarty could turn the trade into a big win for New York if he steps up and becomes a regular contributor. A key member of FC Dallas’ MLS Cup finalist team last season, McCarty has the technical qualities to thrive in the possession-style system the full-strength Red Bulls can employ.

Now, if McCarty struggles, the Red Bulls fail in their quest to make an impact summer signing or two, and De Rosario thrives with D.C. United, this trade could go down as a disaster for New York and a steal for a D.C. team that will be hoping De Rosario fits better in D.C. than he did in New York.

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