The MLS transfer window is now open, and teams are already busy at work. Amid a league-wide flurry of reserves being released, D.C. United has gone the opposite direction. The Black-and-Red today got Chinese striker Long Tan from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a 2015 1st round Supplemental Draft pick (essentially a 3rd rounder, if you're like me and mentally treat the two drafts as one and the same entity).
Why so cheap? The last major headline Tan made in MLS was when head coach Martin Rennie suspended him indefinitely after a Twitter outburst - you can follow him @LongTan23 - demanding playing time or a release. While Tan has played since then (a 90th minute appearance as a sub against the New York Red Bulls last Wednesday), clearly there were issues between player and club.
Tan also has a history with United. His first trial in MLS came here, and while he wasn't signed, he did enough to stay in Tom Soehn's mind. Once Soehn ended up in the Vancouver front office, he brought the now-24-year-old Tan aboard. In doing so, Tan became MLS's first-ever Chinese player.
The best summation of Tan's overall ability was written by Benjamin Massey over at Eighty Six Forever, SB Nation's Whitecaps blog. His opinion, having seen Tan on a regular basis over the past few years, reinforces what I've seen out of him when I've had the chance to see a Whitecaps game when he plays. He's a hard worker, responsible defensively, and brings a ton of enthusiasm into the team. He also has a powerful shot, and tends to score remarkable goals. On the other hand, he is erratic and has shown a bit of a temper (not just the Twitter controversy, but also avoidable cards). Further, he's the kind of player who scores golazos but can't be depended on in routine situations.
Where does that leave him within the current United team? That might be the bad news for Tan: We've got just as many - if not more - good strikers as Vancouver. We also have the wings completely covered, if United were to try to use Tan as a wide player (which has been done before). During the fall's World Cup qualifiers, we might need Tan around with Dwayne De Rosario, Hamdi Salihi, and Branko Boskovic all likely to be called into their national teams (and Chris Pontius pushing very hard for real attention from Juergen Klinsmann). He'll also surely play major minutes in the reserve league, and don't be surprised if he gets loaned out to a nearby USL team for spot duty a la Ethan White or Andrew Dykstra.