The Red Bulls Were Right To Sell Dax McCarty

As word trickled out that the New York Red Bulls had sold their captain to the Chicago Fire yesterday, there was, predictably, a great deal of backlash on social media from fans. However, there also seemed to be a contingent of others who appeared content, if not supportive, of the deal. It’s easy to see both arguements, but, for the long-term success of the organization, dealing Dax McCarty was a necessary evil.

As improbable as it may seem, the trade is one of the most important in the 22-year history of MLS. While it won’t eclipse the 2004 D.C. United/Dallas Burn trade which ensured 14-year-old Freddy Adu could play in his hometown, the trade should certainly be spoken of in the same stratosphere as Carlos Ruiz going from L.A. to Dallas for, what turned out to be, Landon Donovan. In fact, Dax McCarty’s trade to the Red Bulls in 2011, which saw Dwayne De Rosario go to D.C., also  occupies the same space as his exit from club.

For six season, through three managers, McCarty captained RBNY to their first major trophy in 2013, and a second Supporter’s Shield in 2015. Additionally, just last year he led the club to their first CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, which begins next month. When all is said and done, the “Ginger Ninja” will go down as, not only one of the greatest players in Red Bulls/Metrostars history, but in MLS’s as well.

Despite his rich and illustrious career in Harrison, NJ, based on his age and the organization’s ideology, the time was right to sell the “heart & soul” of the club. At 29, McCarty is at the tail-end of his prime. A decline in his play is inevitable, especially considering his hard-nosed style and small size. Indeed, only last year he suffered a severe leg injury which sidelined him for almost two months. His value will never be higher than it is now, and may see a rapid decline in a short period of time.

The Red Bulls are known to be a value-based team, always looking for “diamonds in the rough”. The days of splurging huge sums for major stars like Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, and Rafa Marquez are over. In their stead, the club has put an emphasis on homegrown talent. One such example is Sean Davis. The 23-year-old filled in remarkably well for McCarty during his injury absence. 

With the emergence of Davis, the natural question for RBNY became whether to keep McCarty at $500,000/yr or sell him at a $400,000 profit and turn to the $125,000 Davis. For the organization, there truly wasn’t a choice. While hearts have been broken, the team has a glutton of talented midfielders to take the role, and leaders like Sacha Kljestan and Luis Robles to handle the pressure. The question now becomes how will the club utilize their profits?