Red Bulls trade Dax McCarty to Fire for general allocation money

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran midfielder joins fourth club, with allocation payments spread over two seasons.

The Chicago Fire have a made a huge move to shore up the midfield in its quest to get out of the basement of Major League Soccer.

The Fire have traded $400,000 in general allocation money, split over the next two seasons, in order to bring in the New York Red Bulls’ captain, according to a league source with knowledge of the deal. The move immediately boosts a Chicago midfield that already added former LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho via loan this season.

Chicago has long said it was looking for a midfielder to dictate the game as well as a leader who can step into the locker room and command respect. McCarty checks both of those boxes.

While Chicago was connected with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Andres Guardado, McCarty gives the Fire a proven commodity in the league who has been a central part of what the Red Bulls have done in the past two seasons, when they finished atop the Eastern Conference both years. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, will now entrust homegrown midfielder Sean Davis to step into the starting lineup, as he did when McCarty broke his leg in a game, coincidentally, against the Fire last season.

McCarty was named MLS Best XI in 2015 and named to his first All-Star Game. He was also recently called up to U.S. men’s national team camp by Bruce Arena.

McCarty has made 275 regular season appearances across his 11-year MLS career. He spent the first five seasons with FC Dallas before moving to D.C. United. He played just 13 games in D.C. before being traded to the Red Bulls, where he has become a stalwart in the lineup. He has 19 goals and 46 assists in his career.

The 29-year-old has made 22 postseason appearances with two goals and one assist.

McCarty will immediately become Chicago’s starter at the No. 6 spot and will be a key piece in general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s attempted turnaround of the Fire. The team has finished in last place in MLS the past two seasons, posting a 7-17-10 record under first-year head coach Veljko Paunović in 2016.

Several pieces have been added to the team over the past two seasons, most notably Johan Kappelhof and Michael de Leeuw last year. Forward Nemanja Nikolic, a designated player from Legia Warsaw, and Juninho were added this offseason, as well as goalkeeper Jorge Rodrigo Bava. Chicago received $250,000 in general allocation money from New York City FC for the No. 3 pick at the draft on Friday.

McCarty was married this past weekend in the Orlando area and took just one day off before flying to California for U.S. national team camp.

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Paul Tenorio is a reporter for FourFourTwo. He works as a freelance reporter on Fire home TV broadcasts. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulTenorio.