Tied for third on Maryland’s career goal-scoring list, Townsend was the fifth overall selection last year and had a goal and two assists in 17 regular season appearances.
“We were quite surprised that Casey was available for a trade and we pounced on it,” United General Manager Dave Kasper said in a written statement. “He is an exciting striker who brings a ton of energy to the attack, and we think he will be a great fit with our side.”
Kasper shouldn’t have been surprised. Chivas USA, owned by Chivas Guadalajara and guided by first-year coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola of Mexico, is emphasizing a Mexican and Mexican-American roster to find a foothold in the Southern California market.
Said one observer close to the situation: United “got a steal.”
Townsend, 23, bolsters a frontline that added Rafael, 20, on loan from Brazil’s Bahia this month. United’s other options are Canadian veteran Dwayne De Rosario, who also plays in midfield; Colombian Lionard Pajoy, a light scorer but hard worker; and Chinese reserve Long Tan. Chris Pontius, the team’s MVP last year, can also play up top but is best suited for the wing.
[UPDATE: Tan has been waived.]
Townsend is scheduled to join United in Bradenton, Fla., Friday night.
United is in the process of cutting ties with Albanian striker Hamdi Salihi after one season. The club has until March 1 for a trade, transfer or buyout in order to purge Salihi’s $300,000+ base earnings from its books and avoid his contract applying toward this year’s salary cap.
Townsend is the second former Maryland Terrapin to join United in the past eight days. Last week, D.C. selected defender Taylor Kemp with the 17th overall pick. United’s other former Terp is third-year defender Ethan White.