Real Salt Lake acquire veteran defender Brandon McDonald from DC United

Real Salt Lake shored up their defensive ranks on Wednesday with one of the breakout stars of 2012, acquiring center back Brandon McDonald from struggling D.C. United for a third-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and a conditional pick in 2015.

McDonald, 27, appeared in 33 games last season and was a catalyst for D.C. United’s run to the Eastern Conference championship, scoring two goals and adding four assists while anchoring the team’s backline. He’s appeared in 12 of the team’s 19 games this year for D.C., who have allowed 29 goals and surprisingly sunk to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

“We want to thank Brandon for all of his contributions on and off the field during the past three seasons, and we wish him the best of luck with his new club,” D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said in a statement.

The Arizona native is in his sixth year in MLS after debuting with the LA Galaxy in 2008. He signed with San Jose Earthquakes in 2009 and eventually appeared in 29 games and another three in the postseason for the club in 2010, when they reached the Eastern Conference championship.

He was traded to D.C. United in June 2011 and appeared in 18 matches for the team the rest of that season before his impressive outing last year, which earned him the team's Defender of the Year award.

McDonald is expected to train with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. They return to action on Saturday against Sporting Kansas City, while D.C. United take on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park the same night.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.