A report from Soccerwire.com's Charles Boehm says that D.C. United will be making a trade to acquire Chicago Fire winger Patrick Nyarko. Per Boehm's reporting, the terms of the deal are likely to involve non-player assets (e.g. draft picks, general or targeted allocation money, or something else) rather than a deal that would see a current United player heading to the Windy City. When reached, D.C. United declined to comment on the report.
As things stand today, Nyarko is Chicago's longest-tenured player. The 29 year old Ghanaian - he'll turn 30 in 10 days - holds a US green card, so he would not take up an international roster spot if he comes to DC. In his 8 seasons with the Fire, Nyarko has produced 19 goals and 39 assists in 196 regular season appearances. Between 2009 and 2013, Nyarko was a fixture in Chicago's lineup, using his speed and dribbling ability to create danger down the right wing. He also has at least some link to the DMV, having spent his collegiate career as the star player for what is likely the best class in the history of Virginia Tech's men's soccer program.
However, the last two years have been rough for Nyarko. In 2014, a mid-season knee injury kept him off the field for the entire summer before he tore his ACL in late October (an injury that, oddly enough, happened at RFK Stadium). That kept him out until July 3rd, 2015, when he marked his return with a goal in a 1-1 draw with Houston. From there, Nyarko appeared in every MLS game the Fire played for the rest of the season. Those 19 appearances include 14 total starts, and a start in each of Chicago's final 12 games. His stat line for the season - 3 goals, 4 assists - is pretty good considering how much of a mess the Fire were in the back half of this past season.
It's not hard to see why United would be interested in Nyarko. He's a proven commodity within MLS, and generally has a reputation for being a good presence at training and off the field. It did appear that he had lost a bit of speed this season as compared to where he was before tearing his ACL, but a) the rule of thumb is that it takes a full year to recover all the way to 100% of your old capabilities and b) he'll still be as fast as any player on United's roster. Fire fans, for years, have loved Nyarko both for his dribbling raids down the right and for his underrated defensive work rate.
Acquiring speed is vital for United, whose strategy on the field tends toward sitting deep before breaking out. United already got slightly faster on the left wing by acquiring Lamar Neagle, and Nyarko would provide serious competition for the starting job on the opposite flank. It's not likely he can replicate his goalscoring rate from 2015 - wingers generally don't score a career high in goals at 30 - but it seems very fair to expect 6-7 assists if he starts 20+ games.
There might also be a domino effect at play here. Ben Olsen has occasionally used Nick DeLeon in central midfield, and if United were to add Nyarko they would be very deep at right midfield (with Miguel Aguilar and Conor Doyle both still in the fold). With Perry Kitchen believed to be on his way to Europe, Davy Arnaud's recovery from a concussion still in question, and Markus Halsti still not a 100% lock to stay in town, we could see DeLeon transitioning into the middle. Given his ability to link play and keep possession, that might actually make a lot of sense as a long-term move.