In third grade I once traded a string cheese for a Hostess cupcake. I thought it was the deal of the century, which is saying something since the deal of the previous century had been the Louisiana Purchase. The cupcake was delicious, though I did think it was strange that everyone watched and snickered while I ate it. It turned out, of course, that the cupcake had fallen on the floor. That’s when I learned the lesson: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Also: people are jerks.

My reaction to the De Rosario-for-McCarty trade was initial joy followed immediately by skepticism. What’s going on here? What does New York know that we don’t? DeRo for McCarty, straight up? No “future considerations”? No draft picks? Nothing from the MLS partial-allocation-reentry-supplemental-draft-designated-player-cap-room grab bag? Just...the red-headed guy for the guy who should have been in Europe for the last four years? You want to do that? Hmmm...(looks Hans Backe in the eyes the way Larry David does on Curb Your Enthusiasm).

I don’t know what might be going on behind the scenes — a contract dispute, lazy training sessions, parking in Thierry Henry’s parking spot — so I have to evaluate this trade at face value. And at face value: duh, yes, absolutely do this trade. McCarty hasn’t been as good as we hoped he would be this year, and — as several of us have noticed — he’s more or less the same player as Clyde Simms. The offense doesn’t work well when both are played together. United need a creative, attacking presence in center midfield, and De Rosario fits the bill exactly. He’s been arguably the best player in MLS over the last decade. True, he’s 33, but he made the MLS best XI last year while scoring a career-high 15 goals. Any trade might work out significantly better or significantly worse than you’d predict, but on the face of it we clearly got the long end of the stick.

Of course, DeRo could easily blow out both knees during his uniform fitting and then we’ll suddenly know why this deal was made. But if he stays healthy and is close to the player that he’s been for the past several years, then I suddenly like United’s chances of making the playoffs. United also picked up defender Brandon McDonald, continuing the movement of players with two capitalized letters in their last names (keep an eye on the news, Devon McTavish). McDonald should make United better mostly by making Kitchen and White aware that their next bad game will probably see them replaced in the following match. United were already a playoff contender, but — unless DeRo immediately falls apart like the caravan in Snatch — I think our chances just improved a bit.