Canadian international midfielder gives the Red Bulls the creative influence they crave and permits Toronto FC to start with a clean slate.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The April Fools Day blockbuster struck between New York and Toronto FC surely would have constituted a prank for the ages if it had not actually occurred.
The premise appears perfectly suited for such a tongue-in-cheek day: a perennially unsuccessful franchise ships away its unsettled local star on a day best reserved for timely injections of humor.
Alas, cruel jokes often turn into saddening doses of reality in the tone-deaf world TFC inhabits.
Dwayne De Rosario departed for New York on Friday night to cap a sequence of events that included the seemingly requisite tomfoolery surrounding any major decision by the Reds – in this case, a series of incredulous reactions from beleaguered fans for mounting a major move on such a lighthearted day, a set of half-hearted afternoon denials from TFC coach Aron Winter and a dinnertime confirmation from both clubs.
It's a shame, really. For all of the needless noise associated with such an ill-timed move, this high-profile swap actually constitutes the logical next step for both clubs and for De Rosario.
De Rosario laid the foundation for his return to the U.S. from the moment he attempted to sign his own check last September. The complicated and fractured relationship between the club and its captain deteriorated further with the rigamarole surrounding De Rosario's ultimately failed trial at Celtic earlier this year. TFC couldn't or wouldn't give De Rosario the Designated Player contract he craved, while De Rosario could not ignore the broken promises or restrain his emotions enough to serve as the captain and the leader required to rebuild the Reds yet again.
Despite the contradictory evidence provided by De Rosario's Herculean on-field efforts, the former TFC captain isn't particularly suited to fill such a role anyways. Since his days in San Jose, he has always operated best as the irresistible joker in the pack rather than the king of the court. In New York, De Rosario can slot straight into the free role he demands – as recent events have shown, he doesn't much like constraints of any kind – and shrug off some of the crippling responsibilities allocated to him as the hometown hero in Toronto. It is a situation that should suit him perfectly.
While De Rosario may eventually wonder whether he received the right counsel as his return to Toronto unfolded, New York will harbor no such doubts about pulling the trigger to acquire the five-time MLS All-Star. De Rosario offers yet another menacing option to an already diverse Red Bulls attack and could represent the final piece of a MLS Cup-winning squad. Perhaps most importantly, the established MLS schemer offers a bit of match-winning insurance should Thierry Henry fail to reach his irresistible best or succumb to yet another injury.
The additional peace of mind supplied by De Rosario's arrival came at a rather inconsequential cost to the Red Bulls' current ambitions. The price for De Rosario – reserves Danleigh Borman and Tony Tchani plus a first-round pick in 2012 – constituted a bargain by any measure. TFC's willingness to absorb a portion of De Rosario's wages on its salary budget only sweetened an already tempting package.
Although New York likely believes it secured the better end of the swap, TFC fared exceedingly well given De Rosario's cumbersome contract and its evident lack of leverage. Tchani represents the key to the package because he constitutes a true building block for the future in central midfield. His power will serve as an important check in a TFC side designed to attack at will, though Winter must keep a careful eye on his passing to ensure it meets the required standard. The first-round pick could yield similarly promising dividends if TFC director of player development Paul Mariner retains his SuperDraft touch, while Borman offers a technically competent option at left back.
It is perhaps fitting that TFC will carry a portion of De Rosario's salary on its budget for the remainder of the year. The undisclosed sum – a component of the deal confirmed to New York reporters by Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler on Saturday – won't alter the course of TFC's apparently doomed campaign, but it will provide a haunting reminder of this painful and peculiar saga as yet another rebuilding effort unfolds at BMO Field.
Five Points – Week 3
1. Toronto FC's future starts with establishing a solid foundation at the back: TFC suffered through a disastrous opening spell in Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Chivas USA. While some disorganization is understandable in the wake of De Rosario's dramatic departure, there is little excuse for the haphazard and sloppy manner in which TFC conceded its opener to Alejandro Moreno. TFC settled well enough after the tumultuous early stages, but the take-home point remains the same: the Reds won't go anywhere until they can field a reliable defensive unit – complete with four capable defenders – on a regular basis.
2. How special is Teal Bunbury?: The question should rest on the tip of everyone's tongues after he scored two stunning goals for Sporting Kansas City in its wild 3-3 draw at Vancouver on Saturday night. Bunbury's first goal – a fluid move to trap, turn and fire into the far corner on a dime – required a hefty dose of quality, while his second strike – including a clever shuffle and a thumping left-footed finish – revealed surprising dexterity for a player of his size.
3. If you're going to beat Vancouver at home, you have to beat Vancouver at home: SKC thought a three-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes would provide enough of a cushion to secure all three points. It didn't. Credit the Whitecaps for feeding off the energy supplied by the influential arrivals of Davide Chiumiento and Nizar Khalfan and leaning on Camilo – a constant threat on the evening prior to his telling pair of goals in second-half stoppage time – in the dying stages to secure a surprising point.
4. DeRo makes his mark in Red Bulls debut: Dwayne De Rosario set up Dane Richards' tally with a defense-splitting feed two minutes after his halftime introduction into the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw against the Dynamo. Similar spells of creativity from the Canadian midfielder – plus a bit more potency in front of goal after he wastefully nodded wide from six yards later in the half – in subsequent matches will ensure success for De Rosario and his new club.
5. Folan's arrival crucial to Rapids' regular season chances: Conor Casey's hamstring injury once again highlights the importance of Caleb Folan's arrival in Colorado last month. Folan scored twice in Colorado's 4-1 victory over D.C. United on Sunday night to open his MLS account, but his true value lies in his ability to give Gary Smith a third scoring option to compete for one of the two available places up front. With Folan around to pick up the slack for a Casey injury or an Omar Cummings international call-up, the Rapids now possess the attacking depth required to break free from the shackles of regular season mediocrity.Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.