MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Official: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire Julian Gressel from DC United


UPDATE (July 15, 1:30 pm ET) – Vancouver Whitecaps FC have officially acquired wingback Julian Gressel in a trade from D.C. United for up to $900,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM), the clubs announced Friday.

The funds exchanged break down as follows: $400,000 in 2022 GAM, $200,000 in 2023 GAM and $300,000 in conditional 2024 GAM if Gressel appears in three MLS matches between the 2022 and 2023 MLS seasons.

“We are always looking for opportunities to take our team to the next level and Julian is the perfect fit. He has been on our radar for a long time, and we are very happy we got this deal done,” Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster said in a release. “Over the past five plus years in the league, Julian has proven to be one of the best players in MLS, regardless of position, and is a league leader in assists. His ability to cross the ball and to set up his teammates in good positions will add additional quality to our group."

Gressel spent two-and-a-half seasons with D.C. United. He departs as Wayne Rooney becomes their head coach.

"Under our new head coach Wayne Rooney, we expect to adjust our tactical shape” Dave Kasper, D.C. United president of soccer operations, said in a release. “We are focused on bringing in players that fit this new system of play and can help Wayne achieve his on-field vision. We’d like to thank Julian for his incredible service to the club since he joined us from Atlanta in 2020 and wish him all of the best in Vancouver."

ORIGINAL (July 15, 10:15 am ET) – Vancouver Whitecaps FC have acquired wingback Julian Gressel in a trade from D.C. United, sources tell The deal is in exchange for $600,000 in General Allocation Money plus another $300,000 in GAM incentives.

The Washington Post's Steven Goff first reported the news.

Gressel's background

Gressel, 28, has made 171 MLS appearances (154 starts) between D.C. United and Atlanta United and is regarded as an elite wingback in MLS. He had double-digit assists in three of his five full seasons in the league and is well on his way to doing so again this year, with seven assists in 17 appearances.

A first-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft (No. 8 overall), Gressel was traded from Atlanta to D.C. in January 2020 for up to $1.1 million in allocation money. An MLS Cup 2018 winner, he has 19 goals and 58 assists in league play.

D.C., Vancouver implications

The German-born defender will slot right into Vancouver's best XI in his natural right wingback role in manager Vanni Sartini's 3-4-2-1 formation. With the defensive prowess of new midfielder Andres Cubas, a Paraguayan international and Designated Player, the Whitecaps can be more aggressive with attack-minded options on the flanks.

Gressel leaves D.C. United as Wayne Rooney takes over as head coach. The Black-and-Red are likely to shift from their 3-4-2-1 formation into a more traditional back four. Gressel has played right back in a back four with Atlanta United in the past, but the club has other plans in mind.

Busy window ahead

D.C. United are expected to be very busy as the Secondary Transfer Window continues upon Rooney taking over. They can also add two more DPs alongside forward Taxi Fountas. The Black-and-Red are reportedly close to signing Jamaica international midfielder Ravel Morrison, and they're reportedly in talks with England international attacker Jesse Lingard as well.

Vancouver have enjoyed the intra-league trade market over the last year, with Gressel being the third likely starter they've added behind forward Brian White and defender Tristan Blackmon.

The Whitecaps are 10th in the Western Conference table, two points below the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line (7W-9L-4D record). D.C. are bottom of the Eastern Conference and league tables, eight points below the playoff line (5W-10L-3D record).