D.C. United desperately needs better players at almost every position. We could also use some experience, some consistency, and some leadership. None of this is news to anyone that has seen us play.
In what is hopefully the first step of many, United addressed those needs at left back. The Black-and-Red sent a 2015 2nd Round SuperDraft pick and a conditional 2016 pick to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for Swiss-Canadian left back Alain Rochat. The 30 year old Rochat has been first-choice for the Whitecaps since arriving from FC Zürich (a club he started for as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League in 2010) ahead of their MLS debut season in 2011.
Rochat was born in Canada to Swiss parents, meaning that he will take up the international roster spot recently freed up by Marcos Sanchez being waived. Rochat has one cap for Switzerland - a World Cup qualifier back in 2005 - and has played for Yverdon-Sport FC and BSC Young Boys (the club that Emiliano Dudar came to United from) along with FC Zürich in Switzerland as well as French side Stade Rennais FC.
For United, Rochat's versatility will come in handy, as he's had success in MLS at three positions that we're weak at right now. Rochat is primarily a left back, which is where he was starting for the Whitecaps before this trade. However, he has also done quite well as a defensive midfielder in a 4231, a position DCU has struggled to fill while John Thorrington and Marcelo Saragosa recovered from injuries. Rochat has also seen time at center back and played well enough that you'd expect him to get consideration at that problem spot as well. Earlier this season, Rochat even played a bit of left midfield, but that was likely an example of Martin Rennie experimenting a bit too much.
Rochat has reasonable athleticism, but more importantly for United is sound positionally and makes good decisions. He's pretty good on the ball as well, even if he's not an overlapping terror. He's also pretty decent as a set piece threat in the box, having scored 8 goals in 67 career MLS appearances. At 6' and 170 lbs, Rochat has slightly better than average size for a left back. He has also picked up his share of yellow cards, having been suspended for accumulation in both 2011 and 2012. His numbers this year - only 2 yellows a third of the way through the season - are roughly in line with his average of 6.5 a season. Most importantly: Given the form of our other defenders, Rochat should have no issues being an instant upgrade at either left back or in central defense if need be.
Rochat will not be immediately eligible to play, as he'll have to acquire a US work visa. Still, there is reason to hope that Rochat makes his debut for the club in Wednesday's US Open Cup match at the Soccerplex against the Philadelphia Union.