D.C. United addressed its most pressing preseason need Friday by signing Cristian Fernandez, a 28-year-old left back from Spain.
Fernandez played five years for Racing Santander’s first team before joining Almeria in 2012. After helping the club gain promotion to La Liga last season, he appeared in four league matches and one cup game this campaign. He was released in December.
Terms were not disclosed. He arrived in Bradenton, Fla., on Thursday night, trained Friday and is tentatively scheduled to make his debut Saturday against the Chicago Fire at IMG Academy (7 p.m. ET, live stream on dcunited.com).
Fernandez becomes United’s top choice at left back, a position lacking depth and experience. Chris Korb, who has played primarily on the right side in his three MLS seasons, and second-year Taylor Kemp were the previous options.
“We are pleased to be adding a left back with solid La Liga experience who is in the prime of his career,” United General Manager Dave Kasper said in a written statement. “Cristian is very good at getting forward to join the attack and providing quality service. This move helps solidify our backline moving into the new season.”
If Fernandez ends up in the lineup for the March 8 season opener against Columbus, United will feature a completely new starting backline. The club added right back Sean Franklin (Los Angeles) and center backs Bobby Boswell (Houston) and Jeff Parke (Philadelphia) over the winter. United also acquired center back Nana Attakora (Toronto), drafted center back Steve Birnbaum (California-Berkeley) and signed Jalen Robinson (Wake Forest) to a homegrown contract.
In Spain this season, Fernandez played 90 minutes against Atletico Madrid, 54 against Levante (two yellow cards, red), 90 against Barcelona, 90 against Sevilla and 58 against Las Palmas in a Copa del Rey match (two yellows, red). On three other occasions, he was on the 18-man game-day roster but did not play.
In 2012-13, Fernandez started 36 of 42 second-division matches, scored six goals and received 11 yellow cards.