Today, D.C. United announced that the team has traded a natural 2015 second round MLS draft pick and an additional, conditional draft pick to the Vancouver Whitecaps for defender/midfielder Alain Rochat. The Quebec-born Rochat was a Whitecap MLS original, and by some accounts was the best player in their woeful inaugural season. To get a read on United's newest member, we got in touch with Jon Szekeres, managing editor of SB Nation's Whitecaps site, 86 Forever for his take on a player he's become very familiar with over the last two plus years.
Black and Red United: Tell us a little bit about Alain Rochat's game. We know he's a defender-slash-midfielder, and he's been well-liked in Vancouver, but that's about it on our end. Where has he slotted into the Whitecaps' lineup, and what are the big characteristics of his game?
86 Forever: Well that's really the best part of Rochat's game. He's versatile, and Martin Rennie used him most extensively at right back, but he also finished last season in a holding midfield role. He's just the type of player that does everything right, and does it quietly. While he may not produce on the scoreboard as much as we thought he could, he does have some pop in his foot, and like any good player, he's always pushing the play forward. He isn't very physical, but he's rarely caught out of position and almost never gives the ball away. A very valuable defensive player.
B&RU: It sounds like, in addition to being a strong on-field addition for United, Ben Olsen's side have also picked up a good "locker room" guy, as well. Is that a fair assessment?
86F: Most definitely. From a media standpoint, Rochat was a trusted man in the Whitecaps locker room, and even wore the armband for a match when Jay Demerit went down with injury. I've spoken with him before, and he really is a genuinely nice person.
B&RU: Care to share any individual plays that sum up what Rochat will be bringing to the District?
86F: Rochat isn't exactly a guy that will dazzle you with his play, he's more of an understated asset. His defensive play is solid, but not flashy, even if he has scored a few markers in his career. Perhaps because it's recent, but I'll remember Rochat taking a knock to the face from Jackson against FC Dallas on April 27th. Jackson was red carded and sent off, while Rochat suffered a bloody nose on the play. Instead of whining and running off the pitch, Rochat had some kleenex stuck up his nose, and he was back on the pitch in moments. A true warrior that will be missed.
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Thanks to Jon for helping us out, despite his deep personal disapproval of the trade. Let us know your thoughts on the trade in the comments.