With D.C. United enjoying a 13-day break from league play and the international transfer window officially open for business as of Tuesday, the club figured to look a bit different by the time its July 20 match at the Chicago Fire rolled around.
Sure enough, United made three moves Tuesday, acquiring playmaker Luis Silva from Toronto FC for allocation money, adding academy product Collin Martin to a professional deal and reportedly selling defender Alain Rochat to Swiss club BSC Young Boys.
Silva, who went fourth overall in the 2012 draft, gives United three players picked in the top seven that year. (Casey Townsend and Nick DeLeon are the others.) In a season and a half with Toronto, the midfielder-forward compiled five goals and seven assists while playing in 44 games (33 starts).
Toronto president Kevin Payne, who held the same post at United from the club’s 1996 inception to 2012, said the move was made to add flexibility because the team is bringing in new attacking talent during the transfer window.
Martin, whose impending signing as a homegrown player was announced by Wake Forest late Tuesday, graduated early from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School before leading the Demon Deacons with six assists during his freshman campaign this past fall.
“I had a blast playing at Wake Forest,” Martin said. “D.C. United made an offer that I felt I couldn’t refuse.”
Rochat, meanwhile, had played in five matches for United since being acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps in early June for a 2015 second-round pick.
While he added immediate class at left back and defensive midfield, he ripped the midseason trade experience as “terrible” and said an offseason move would have been the “human” thing to do. Complicating matters was the pregnancy of his wife, who gave birth to their fourth child this past weekend.
Reports that Rochat was negotiating a move back to his native Switzerland surfaced Tuesday morning in the Swiss media, and The Washington Post later reported the transfer had been finalized.
So what do these moves mean for United? Here’s my breakdown:
• Adding Silva is a savvy transaction that further strengthens a youthful core for United, who last week also acquired 23-year-old midfielder Jared Jeffrey from German side Mainz. Silva, a natural central midfielder or withdrawn forward who also can be used out wide, adds much-needed creativity to a league-worst United attack that has scored just eight goals in 19 games.
With Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius and DeLeon, United aren’t as meager offensively as those numbers indicate, but the combination of injuries and a woeful lack of depth harmed them. The promising additions of Silva and Jeffrey following the releases of Marcos Sanchez, Raphael Augusto and Rafael show the team is going in the right direction.
• Losing Rochat is tough, but the more than $500,000 transfer fee reported by The Post indicates this was a good piece of business in the end — albeit one that unfortunately jerked around a player and his young family. The move also exacerbates United’s need for defensive reinforcements. The current first-choice back line of James Riley, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard and Chris Korb has been serviceable, but upgrades clearly are needed. Although the return to health of Dejan Jakovic (adductor strain) would be a boost, that’s just one piece of the puzzle.
• Expectations for Martin, a U.S. under-20 international who received All-Freshman honors in the ACC, should be tempered. But considering this is a lost season for United, I wouldn’t be surprised if he quickly worked his way into the rotation as coach Ben Olsen starts evaluating his personnel with a look toward next season.