D.C. United has opted to make a move before the close of MLS’s primary transfer window, with reports saying that they’ll trade their 2020 1st round draft pick to FC Dallas for Brazilian left back Marquinhos Pedroso. An injury crisis at fullback has factored into the club’s tepid recent form, and of late has even required a formation change for a team built to play 4231.
The news was broken by the Washington Post’s Steve Goff on Twitter, and he has since elaborated on the news. Per Goff’s reporting, Dallas would keep a substantial portion of Pedroso’s salary ($330,000 in 2018 per the MLS Player Association) on their books. Down in Dallas, Pedroso was reportedly in the middle of a training session when the news filtered through:
Our man at training @Crooke86 says Pedorso has now been pulled out of the main training group and is currently doing simple rehab type work with the injured players.— 3rd Degree (@3rdDegreeNet) April 30, 2019
Obviously that's a very strong indicator this trade is going down.
There may still be a hold-up, as Pedroso was initially acquired via discretionary Targeted Allocation Money (dTAM), and one of the rules involved says that he can’t be traded for a full year after initially coming to MLS. Dallas added Pedroso on July 5th last year, and while Goff’s sources seem optimistic about finding a work-around, it remains unclear how this particular MLS rule is going to be circumvented.
United has been in need of a healthy fullback for some time now. Oniel Fisher (knee) and Chris Odoi-Atsem (recovery from Hodgkin’s lymphoma) were known long-term absentees coming into the season. Leonardo Jara and Joseph Mora were the projected starters, with Chris McCann and starting winger Paul Arriola in place as depth, but that quickly proved insufficient.
Mora was injured first, sustaining a jaw injury that required surgery in a collision with Orlando City wingback Ruan on March 31st. McCann replaced him, but on April 9th suffered a hamstring strain against the Montreal Impact. Jara picked up an injury to his shoulder about half an hour later, and Ben Olsen — facing another game just 4 days later — debuted a 3421 formation in Colorado with Arriola and Ulises Segura playing as wingbacks.
Since then, United has tried their preferred 4231 once, with Jara (right back) and Arriola (left back) as the fullbacks, before bringing the 3421 back for the last two games. Rookie Akeem Ward is a right back who Olsen and GM Dave Kasper asserted could play left back after selecting him in this year’s draft, but he has been exclusively on the right in his 4 starts for Loudoun United in the USL Championship.
Pedroso’s background indicates that he should be able to succeed in MLS. He debuted for Figueirense in Brazil’s Serie A at 19 years old, slowly working his way into a starting role with help from loan stints with Guarani and Gremio. By 2015, he was starting the majority of Figueirense’s league matches, and after playing 29 games in 2016, he was loaned to Turkish club Gaziantepspor for the back half of their 2016-2017 season, starting 15 times and helping them avoid relegation.
Upon the end of that loan, he was loaned out again, this time to Ferencvaros of the Hungarian top flight. There, he started 23 of 33 league matches for a side that finished just 2 points short of a championship. When that loan ended, he was quickly given a permanent transfer from Figueirense to Dallas, though it was not made clear whether there was a transfer fee involved.
In Dallas, Pedroso has a reputation as maybe not the most capable attacking fullback, but certainly very solid defensively. This about sums it up:
performances for both FCD and NTXSC, it's not a great surprise to see Marcos go. An expensive player to not make the 18, and someone who struggles with the attacking aspect of Luchi-ball. Still a fantastic defender— Dan Crooke (@Crooke86) April 30, 2019
Pedroso has been clear of any injuries this season, and has only ended up being surplus due to the approach new FCD coach Luchi Gonzalez brings to the table. Gonzalez has preferred Ryan Hollingshead, who has started every game thus far. Pedroso has made 2 appearances, with his lone start coming in a 1-0 loss at Columbus back in mid-March.
Assuming the deal goes through, United will have to make some kind of move to accommodate his place on the roster. While there are 4 senior roster spots open, United currently has 7 internationals for 8 spots: Jara, Mora, Junior Moreno, Lucas Rodriguez, Wayne Rooney, Ulises Segura, and Zoltan Stieber. Pedroso would require such a spot, which makes Kasper’s move weeks ago to add one more look pretty smart.
This piece originally stated that United did not have any more open international roster spots, and has been corrected.