Mired in a club-record 11-game winless stretch, D.C. United on Thursday added veteran leadership and defensive polish with the acquisition of left back Alain Rochat.
The 30-year-old Swiss international, who also can play center back and defensive midfield, was added from the Vancouver Whitecaps for a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional 2016 selection.
Rochat over 2 1/2 seasons with Vancouver has started 65 games, appearing in 12 matches this year. He previously played in France and Switzerland, gaining UEFA Champions League experience in 2010 with FC Zurich.
Once the player’s paperwork is cleared up and he is deemed eligible (the team is shooting for early next week, a club representative said), Rochat figures to step straight into the starting lineup for United (1-10-2). So where will he slide in? Here are the three options:
• Left back: Rochat could add much-needed defensive stability from his natural position, pushing Daniel Woolard and James Riley to the bench, and Chris Korb to right back full time. He’s a classy distributor who can get forward, which could also help United somewhat replicate the formula from last year, when Andy Najar’s runs forward from right back sparked the attack.
• Center back: Considering the way coach Ben Olsen has rotated his center backs this season (due to injuries and inconsistency, Dejan Jakovic, Brandon McDonald, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard, Conor Shanosky and Perry Kitchen have all played there), Rochat’s calming influence might better be used inside.
• Defensive midfield: Kitchen has been a rock in central midfield for United, but Olsen has had trouble deciding on his partner. Players tried there so far: John Thorrington, Marcelo Saragosa, Dwayne De Rosario, Raphael Augusto, Lewis Neal and Nick DeLeon. Injuries to Saragosa and Neal further complicate matters. So it might be worth giving Rochat a shot in the middle, where he played down the stretch last season for Vancouver.