The Fire splashed a decent amount of Nelson Rodriguez’s famed stack of MLS allocation money on Monday night and acquired central midfield stalwart and former captain of Red Bull New York Dax McCarty for $400k in GAM. The Fire’s official release designated this as $200k paid in 2017, with the other $200k going to the Red Bulls in 2018. (On a sidenote: thank you so very much, MLS, for the newfound transparency in giving us actual numbers for allocation money involved in trades. This is something MLS fandom has been pining for a long time.) The move came as a definite shock to many, since McCarty has been a key contributor in two different Supporters’ Shield winning sides for Red Bull in 2013 and 2015, respectively. In six seasons in New York, McCarty appeared in 169 MLS matches, starting 163 of those, and playing a grand total of 14,381 minutes. McCarty holds club records both for matches started and minutes, and is tied for the most appearances in club history. In that time, McCarty scored 14 goals, and added 27 assists. McCarty also appeared in 17 playoff matches for New York, notching a goal and an assist. In addition to his Supporters’ Shield winning exploits, McCarty was given the captain’s armband by Jesse Marsch and was a key component in steadying the ship after the shaky off-season transitioning from the Mike Petke/Thierry Henry era into the current regime.
Hot (Time) Take
This is a huge, huge, massively huge move. Nelson Rodriguez has spent most of his time as the GM of the Fire waiting for the perfect pitch. After fouling off multiple pitches, he’s finally decided to swing. That being said, the fact that Nelson just dropped all of the money he got for the number 3 overall pick in the SuperDraft just 3 days ago, and then some, should speak volumes about how the Fire views McCarty. Nelson got his pitch, and he’s hoping the fly ball gets over the fence [Ed. note: WRONG SPORT. Love, JBG]. Simply put, the Fire are all in. It also seems like N-Rod got tired of waiting around for José Mourinho to let Bastian Schweinsteiger go, and took this opportunity while it was still on the table. As far as the potential cap ramifications of this deal, this reply from Fire Insider Guillermo Rivera grants a lot of insight.
Bastian Schweinsteiger would have been a DP no matter how you may have sliced it should he have ended up in Chicago. In addition to Dax being a known commodity in MLS, he’s also probably a more known commodity just in the grand scheme of things as Schweinsteiger has appeared in just two matches in all comps this season, and is coming off of an injury at the tail of last season. Dax not having DP status also gives the Fire more cap room to play with. Juninho is currently a DP, but the Fire made it known that he could easily be bought down should they want to sign another DP. Dax doesn’t need to be bought down, and that could mean that the Fire still aren’t done yet, since his signing leaves a DP slot open. Schweinsteiger was a higher-risk proposition, and Nelson just decided to take the known commodity. In doing so, it also means that we could see more of the war chest of allocation money end up on the field this season, instead of being used to buy down Juninho. While McCarty still isn’t entirely a known quantity with several injuries in recent times and a 30th birthday just around the corner, he is by far a lower-risk proposition than Schweinsteiger ever was, and he might have a higher floor. Nelson Rodriguez just got his guy, folks. Now to see if it pays off.