NEW YORK – Dwayne De Rosario has a new home, and the New York Red Bulls have a new engine for their offense.
The Red Bulls acquired the five-time MLS Best XI selection via a trade with Toronto FC for two players and a future draft pick on Friday, giving New York head coach Hans Backe the playmaker he’s sought since taking the reins in the Big Apple last season.
The Red Bulls shipped talented young defensive midfielder and 2010 MLS SuperDraft pick Tony Tchani and South African midfielder Danleigh Borman to Toronto, along with their first-round pick in the 2012 SuperDraft.
De Rosario is eligible to play in New York’s matchup against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, Matchday Live, Direct Kick), while Tchani and Borman are eligible to play when Toronto host Chivas USA (1 pm ET, TSN).
New York become the fourth club of an already storied career for De Rosario, who has spent the last two years as the offensive catalyst for Toronto FC. But while those two years yielded some impressive individual accolades for De Rosario – he scored a career-high 15 goals last season and earned Best XI selections in 2009 and 2010 – the return to his native Canada never materialized in any marked success for the club, who missed the postseason in both full seasons with De Rosario on the roster.
There was also friction between De Rosario and former head coach Preki (who was let go by the club before the end of last season) as the Reds’ playoff hopes dwindled last fall, and De Rosario wondered publicly about his salary and worth to the club. That issue reached new heights during a post-goal celebration on Sept. 25, when De Rosario mimicked writing a check to himself in front of a euphoric crowd at BMO Field.
[inline_node:325571]The saga continued into the offseason, when De Rosario traveled to Scotland in December for a trial with storied club Celtic. That trip, however, drew the ire of TFC officials who had not approved of the star’s audition abroad, and TFC eventually declined a loan deal for De Rosario while trying to secure his services under head coach Aron Winter’s new regime.
De Rosario returned after the Celtic trial and assured TFC fans in February that he was happy to be back, telling the media that, “Other than the day I signed, this is probably as happy as I’ve been here.”
Now, however, he has a new home, and a chance to effectively run what might be the most imposing offense in the league. De Rosario will almost certainly play in an attacking midfield role (one Backe attempted to fill via a trade for Mehdi Ballouchy last season) behind forwards Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo, with Finnish import Teemu Tainio in the defensive central midfield and Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards manning the wings.
De Rosario also instantly becomes the resident MLS figurehead on a diverse Red Bulls roster, whose only other MLS Cup winner is defender Chris Albright. De Rosario has four MLS Cups to his credit thanks to his signature moments with the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, but he hasn’t won any team hardware since the Dynamo’s second title in 2007.
De Rosario also etched his name into the MLS history books during the Toronto FC season opener in Vancouver, scoring the 8,000th goal in league history. De Rosario is the fourth-leading goal-scorer among active MLS players behind Jeff Cunningham, Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz.
The trade gives Toronto FC a solid midfield presence in the 21-year-old Tchani, who made 17 starts for the Red Bulls during his rookie season last year. Drafted with the second overall pick in the 2010 SuperDraft out of Virginia, the Cameroon native asserted himself as one of the most promising young players in the league last season, and he has appeared in each of the Red Bulls’ two matches this season.
The Reds also land an MLS regular in Borman, who appeared in a career-high 24 matches in 2009 and 18 for Backe’s club last season. Taken by New York with the 7th overall pick in the 2008 SuperDraft out of the University of Rhode Island, Borman has been used as both a midfielder and a left back in New York’s system, but saw his minutes dip slightly last season as the Red Bulls cemented their midfield lineup and leaned more heavily on Roy Miller at left back.