McDonald bringing physical presence, leadership to DC

Brandon McDonald, San Jose Earthquakes

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WASHINGTON – While D.C. United’s unexpected acquisition of Dwayne De Rosario grabbed the most headlines on Monday, a less attention-grabbing move for Brandon McDonald could prove just as crucial over the course of this season.

The club acquired the 6-foot-3 defender from the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for allocation money in a gambit to beef up a back line that has conceded the second-most goals in MLS in 2011.

According to head coach Ben Olsen, McDonald brings two big assets to DC’s defense: size and leadership.

“He’s a big boy, a physical guy,” he said. “He’s got a leadership quality to him, a vocal guy. I think he can concentrate, he’s tuned in, all qualities you want in a center back.”

After learning of the move on Monday, McDonald hustled to the airport, caught a flight to Washington and, after landing at around 2 a.m., was training with his new club Tuesday morning.

His move to DC marks the first time he’s moving away from the West Coast since 2004, having played collegiately at the University of San Francisco, then professionally for the LA Galaxy and the Earthquakes. Having played sparingly over the past month in San Jose — his appearances limited to coming in off the bench late in the game — McDonald admitted he’s going to have to put in extra work to reach full fitness.

“I’m going to have to work on it,” he said. “Training in San Jose was intense, I [tried] to put in 110 percent in every training. I’m going to have to do a little work with the fitness coach on the side, but I’m alright.”

When asked about possibly being ready to go Saturday against Philadelphia, McDonald said he’d take it day by day as he adjusts and ensures he’s ready to go the 90 minutes.

He appeared eager to work closely with rookies Perry Kitchen and Ethan White, hoping to pass some of his experience on to DC’s promising young center-back pairing.

“I’m always willing to learn,” he said. “I can learn from them, they can learn from me. I can pay it forward from what I learned from the other back lines I played with. I love trying to teach people who are willing to listen.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.