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De Rosario at centre of an NHL-style trade… in MLS

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It’s the kind of trade we’re used to seeing on trade deadline day in the National Hockey League, not on a Major League Soccer off-day.

A team looking to contend pulls out the stops for an aging, well-paid veteran, hoping he can bring some magic. The team that deals him looks to free up salary-cap space.

Love him or hate him, Dwayne De Rosario is big news again. Less than three months after Toronto FC traded the attacking midfielder and former face of the franchise to the New York Red Bulls, he has been sent to D.C. United.

The Red Bulls get former U.S. U-20 midfielder Dax McCarty, who was a vital part of FC Dallas’ run to MLS Cup last season, in return.

De Rosario’s four-year contract, which pays him US$493,750 this season, expires at the end of the 2012 season. But this is an option year in the deal. So, for all intents and purposes, D.C. can use him as a rental player.

Just like we see in the NHL.

McCarty makes US $175,000, so New York ends up with a massive net gain in cap space.

“Today we signed one of the best players MLS has ever seen in Dwayne De Rosario,” said D.C United head coach Ben Olsen. “In order to gain a quality piece we gave up a quality player in Dax McCarty, but we feel that De Rosario is a game-changer that will help us in our push for playoffs.”

“Dax is an exciting young player who will immediately add his dynamic style of play to our midfield,” said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler in a release issued by the club. “He is an excellent two-way player who will contribute both to our defense and to our attack for seasons to come.”

“To acquire such a promising player, we had to make a difficult decision in trading Dwayne. During his short time in New York, Dwayne has been a consummate professional. We wish him the best of luck in D.C.”

“This business is NUTS!” tweeted McCarty after the deal. “DCU fans, its been a pleasure, truly the class of the league.That said, can’t wait 2 get 2 NY! Appreciate the support.”

De Rosario scored twice and added four assists in 13 games for the Red Bulls, 12 of them starts.

D.C. United, the most decorated club in MLS history, currently has a 4-5-6 record, and is desperate to get back to the winning ways we have long associated with the club.

De Rosario is a five time all-star and two-time MLS Cup MVP. He has won four titles.

When he was dealt to New York, his camp hoped that they could renegotiate his deal and take a Designated Player spot with the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls would need to use their third DP slot to make that happen. But, ironically, if they had paid him the DP money, his cap hit would have gone down.

De Rosario has been adamant that he plans to keep playing well into his late 30s. He has promised that if Canada were to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, that he would keep himself in top shape so he could participate.

“My dream as a kid was always to make the World Cup,” De Rosario said before a friendly against Peru last season. “I’m not going to let age get in the way of that.”

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