D.C. United were at the center of some Wednesday evening wheeling and dealing in MLS, sending veteran forward Fabian Espindola to the Vancouver Whitecaps while acquiring a more youthful option in New York City FC's Patrick Mullins.
Espindola, 31 and a Designated Player, heads to Vancouver in exchange for general allocation money and will be added to the 'Caps roster pending receipt of his international transfer certificate, medical and Canadian work permit.
"We are thrilled to welcome Fabian to Vancouver," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson in a statement provided by the team. "He is a proven goal scorer in this league, always difficult to play against, and knows what it takes to win."
Landing in D.C. is the 24-year-old Mullins, who will be joining his third MLS team in as many seasons in the league. In exchange, United sent NYCFC general allocation money and an international roster spot.
“Patrick is a young, dynamic number nine who knows how to create and finish chances,” Dave Kasper, United general manager and VP of soccer operations, said in a statement provided by the team. “We have had him on our radar since his time at Maryland and look forward to his continued development here. We are delighted he is joining us and believe in the value he can add to this club.”
In Espindola, the Whitecaps will get a left-footed forward in his 10th year in the league to help fill the void left by the departed Octavio Rivero. The Argentine attacker has 64 goals and 36 assists across 212 regular-season appearances, plus another goal and three assists in 19 playoff appearances. He spent the first six years of his MLS career with Real Salt Lake, where he won an MLS Cup in 2009, and also helped the New York Red Bulls to the 2013 Supporters' Shield before moving to D.C. ahead of the 2014 season.
Espindola's best year in a United uniform came in 2014, when he scored 11 goals and nine assists to guide the team to the top of the Eastern Conference table and earn team MVP honors. He currently has four goals and one assist in 15 games in 2016.
“Fabi has been a valuable part of our team over the last few seasons,” Kasper said. "We thank him for his service and wish him the best."
The move to swap Espindola and Mullins on the roster will inject some youth into the D.C. forward line, which also features 34-year-old Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio. Mullins, who played his college soccer nearby at the University of Maryland and got his pro career started with the New England Revolution, has 10 goals and six assists in 52 MLS appearances, 25 of which have been off the bench.
This year Mullins has yet to score, though has one assist, in 230 minutes spread across seven games. It's a marked downturn from his 2015 season, in which he scored six goals and added four helpers across 24 games.
“On behalf of everyone at the Club, I would like to sincerely thank Patrick Mullins for his contribution to the building of New York City FC,” said NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna in a statement provided by the club. “Patrick gave his all on the field and in the community, and scored a goal in our historic first ever match at Yankee Stadium that will always be remembered. We wish him the best of luck in the next step of his career.”