D.C. United has made no secrets about their pursuit of a new right back, and after weeks of work on a deal, they announced today that their pursuit of Boca Juniors defender Leonardo Jara was successful. Terms of the deal, a one-year loan, were not disclosed. The 27-year-old Argentine has over 150 appearances in his native country’s top flight, and was first-choice in the Xeneizes’ run to the Copa Libertadores final in 2018. Jara has already joined United’s preseason training camp in Florida.
“We are thrilled to add a defender of Leonardo’s quality and pedigree ahead of the 2019 season,” said United GM Dave Kasper via team press release. “Acquiring an outside back was high on our priority list this offseason. Leonardo has good defensive instincts and also has the range and ability to get forward and add a dimension to our attack.”
Before he joined Boca Juniors, Jara started his career with Estudiantes de La Plata, a club United appears to be developing close ties with. The Buenos Aires native joins midfielders Luciano Acosta and Lucas Rodriguez as former Estudiantes players that are projected starters for Ben Olsen this season. Per United’s release, Estudiantes had all three players on the field in 11 different games in the 2015 season, when Acosta was there on loan from Boca Juniors.
Going back further, United famously went very close to signing star midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron only for the Argentina national team regular to choose to return to Estudiantes, his boyhood club. Veron is currently EDLP’s chairman.
Adding Jara means that United will be able to use Designated Player Paul Arriola as a winger, his natural position, rather than being forced to have him fill in at right back as they were expecting to. The departure of Nick DeLeon, combined with Oniel Fisher’s severe knee injury late last season, left the Black-and-Red in a bind, but between acquiring Jara and selecting Akeem Ward in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, it appears their depth problems at the back are largely solved.