In a move to strengthen attacking depth, D.C. United acquired veteran forward Chris Rolfe from the Chicago Fire on Wednesday for allocation funds.
Rolfe, 31, recorded 48 goals in 178 league matches in seven-plus seasons with the Fire but scored a career-low four times last season and fell on the club’s depth chart this spring. As part of the deal, a portion of his salary will remain on Chicago’s books. He had a base salary of $225,000 last year and is expected to earn a similar amount this year.
“He is very experienced, very successful, and he offers a lot of style in the attack third as someone who can create opportunities and finish,” United General Manager Dave Kasper said.
Rolfe, who served with Danish club Aalborg from January 2010 to April 2012, is scheduled to practice Thursday and be in uniform Saturday night against the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium.
Just three matches into the season, United felt the need to further bolster an attacking corps that had been rebuilt over the winter. Midfielder Chris Pontius remains out after suffering setbacks in his recovery from offseason hamstring surgery and, starting in mid-May, forward Eddie Johnson will probably miss seven matches while on U.S. national team duty for the World Cup. Unrelated to the trade, United is also bracing to be without central midfielder Luis Silva for four weeks with an ankle injury suffered last weekend against the Fire.
Rolfe will play on the frontline, wide in midfield and possibly in a central attacking role, Kasper said.
Kasper met with Brian Bliss, his Chicago counterpart, after Saturday’s match between the teams at RFK to discuss Rolfe’s availability.
“The allocation money that we received in this trade will give us more flexibility and freedom moving forward,” Fire Coach Frank Yallop said in a written statement. “It’s always difficult to part ways with someone who has been part of the club for multiple years, but with our existing depth, we felt that this was the right move to make.”
It wasn’t the first time United pursued the former University of Dayton star. United was prepared to claim him, along with forward Fabian Espindola, in the second stage of MLS’s re-entry draft in December when Rolfe reached agreement with the Fire. (D.C. ended up acquiring Espindola and defender Nana Attakora in that stage, plus defenders Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell in the first round.)
The amount of allocation money sent to Chicago and the percentage of Rolfe’s salary remaining on the Fire’s payroll were not disclosed. United will not have to make any roster moves to accommodate him, Kasper said.