WASHINGTON – With injuries piling up at outside back, D.C. United acquired defender Mike Chabala from the Portland Timbers on Thursday in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 MLS supplemental draft. And according to head coach Ben Olsen, the veteran was the man they need.
“It’s a spot we knew we had to get [to] as far as really completing our depth,” Olsen said Thursday inside RFK’s media work room. “He’s a guy who’s had a bunch of games in this league and we know can do a good job for us.”
Chabala arrived in D.C. on Thursday and is expected to train with the club Friday before traveling to Kansas City for Saturday’s match (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
In order to clear space on the roster, United announced the retirement of midfielder Kurt Morsink. The 28-year-old, who didn’t appear in a match this season, will remain with the team as the scouting coordinator after three seasons with United.
Daniel Woolard’s concussion last weekend against Columbus heightened D.C.’s need for an outside back, coupled with Robbie Russell’s plantar fasciitis. Should Chabala play Saturday, it would allow Chris Korb – who has experience on both the left and right – to remain on the right side.
“I think he gets forward very well,” Olsen said of the 6-foot, 175-pound Chabala. “I like that he’s had a lot of games. He’s familiar with some of our guys. He’s looking for a fresh start. I think that’s always a good thing. I think he’s a competitive guy and he’ll fit right in.”
The 28-year-old back has played in nine matches this season and started six with his most recent appearance coming against FC Dallas on July 21, when he played the full 90. The seventh-year MLS veteran was traded from Houston to Portland last season and has logged 5,154 minutes of MLS service time in 70 matches (55 starts). In Houston, he was teammates with Dwayne De Rosario and Danny Cruz.
Olsen said the plan to shift Morsink into a new role had been discussed for a while. Morsink spent six seasons in MLS and played collegiate soccer at James Madison University.
“Morsink’s a big piece of this team,” Olsen said. “People don’t know a lot about Kurt because they don’t see him on the field, but he’s a great locker-room piece who’s a great link to the entire group. Kurt’s not really going anywhere. He’s still going to be a part of the team both in the locker room and in the front office.”
Chabala’s acquisition likely signals the end of United’s moves before the Sept. 14 roster freeze.
“That’s it right now,” Olsen said. “We’re cashed out. This is who we are and I’m OK with that."