D.C. United tied up one offseason loose end today, announcing a move to acquire Brendan Hines-Ike on a permanent basis from Belgian side KV Kortrijk. Hines-Ike, 27, is now under contract with the Black-and-Red through 2024, with option years for 2025 and 2026.
No details of a transfer fee were mentioned in announcements from United or Kortrijk. However, Steven Goff is reporting in the Washington Post that Hines-Ike’s playing time will determine how much (if any) the Black-and-Red owe the Belgian side.
“Signing Brendan on a permanent transfer is the club’s first step in bolstering the roster ahead of the 2022 season,” said United GM Lucy Rushton in a team press release. “He showed us last year that he has all the tools to be an integral center back in our system of play. We’re excited to sign him on through 2024 and believe that he will be a huge asset to our backline and club for the foreseeable future.”
Dave Kasper, the team’s President of Soccer Operations, added that Hines-Ike “...settled into MLS quickly after signing on loan with us last year and we believe he will be instrumental to our success in Head Coach Hernán Losada’s system moving forward. He’s an intuitive defender who reads the game well and can lead our attack out of the back with his range of passing. We’re looking forward to his contributions to the club in 2022 and beyond.”
Hines-Ike was signed on loan from Kortrijk just before the start of the 2021 season, having spent his professional career in Europe after a collegiate career with Creighton and the University of South Florida. He started 11 of United’s first 12 games, scoring a goal on his debut, and generally establishing himself as a starter for Hernán Losada. Hines-Ike began the season as United’s right-center back before eventually moving into the middle of the back three due to Andy Najar’s emergence as a key player. An unusual hip injury suffered in the 7-1 win over Toronto FC unfortunately broke that partnership up, keeping Hines-Ike off the field for 19 straight games. He returned in time to make two more appearances, including a start on Decision Day.
Securing Hines-Ike for the long term brings United up to 23 players on the roster, though the future of one (Erik Sorga) is unclear after his loan to VVV Venlo ended on December 31. That number is expected to rapidly climb, with the club having previously said that it was in talks with Junior Moreno, Felipe Martins, and Jon Kempin, and rumors swirling that Loudoun United midfielder Ted Ku-DiPietro could sign a homegrown contract in the near future.
Before today, United’s only winter addition has been to sign Ivorian wingback Gaoussou Samaké, who impressed while on loan with Loudoun last year. D.C. has also been linked with a move for Wisła Kraków winger Yaw Yeboah and Austria-based Greek striker Taxi Fountas.