[UPDATES with official announcement]
D.C. United has acquired veteran attacker Patrick Nyarko from the Chicago Fire for a second-round pick in next week’s MLS draft.
Nyarko, a former Virginia Tech star who turns 30 next week, is entering his ninth MLS season. United will inherit his 2016 guaranteed salary of about $210,000 and hold an option for 2017.
“From a wide position, Patrick has regularly been one of the top chance creators in the league,” United General Manager Dave Kasper said. “His pace and technical ability make him difficult to defend and we believe that he will complement our returning attacking players perfectly.”
Nyarko, a quick flank player most comfortable on the right side, suffered an ACL injury in a match against United late in the 2014 season. He returned last summer to post three goals and four assists in 19 appearance (14 starts) for the league-worst Fire.
While not much of a finisher — he has never scored more than four goals in a season — he is a creator (37 assists in the past six years) who will provide a jolt of speed that United covets.
Nyarko, a native of Ghana, is expected to compete with Nick DeLeon for the starting job on the right wing, though the coaching staff has contemplated shifting DeLeon into a central role.
Nyarko is the second wide player to arrive this offseason: Lamar Neagle, a left-sided specialist, came in a trade with Seattle last month, replacing Chris Pontius, who was dealt to Philadelphia.
In acquiring Nyarko, United surrendered the 33rd overall pick in next Thursday’s draft in Baltimore.
“I have always embraced challenges and at this particular point in my career, these challenges take me to another city,” Nyarko said. “I will forever cherish the experiences and memories that I have accumulated during my time in Chicago.”
The move, however, raises more questions about the age of United’s core group: Nyarko will become the eighth regular on the preseason roster in his thirties. The others are midfielder Davy Arnaud (36 in June), forward Alvaro Saborio (34 in March), midfielder-forward Chris Rolfe (33 this month), defender Bobby Boswell (33 in March), midfielder Markus Halsti (32 in March), defender Sean Franklin (31 in March) and forward Fabian Espindola (31 in May).
It also bumps Miguel Aguilar, who showed promising signs as a rookie in 2015, lower on the attacking depth chart.
While the club has addressed the flanks, United remains in the market for players to fill gaping voids in central midfield. The team has been trying to land a playmaker from Argentina and find a replacement for out-of-contract defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen, who is pursuing European opportunities after turning down United’s offers.
United craves Leonardo Gil, a 24-year-old attacker from Estudiantes in Argentina. Negotiations concerning a two-year loan with an option to purchase broke down last week, but a source said Gil “might be back in play” for United. Talks resumed this week, the source said, and the club was waiting to hear back from the Argentine side about what it would take to get the deal done.
United is also shopping in Europe, particularly France, for midfield help.
United officials have declined to comment about overseas interests and negotiations.
Meantime, goalkeeper Bill Hamid was invited to the U.S. national team’s annual winter camp, which will open Sunday in Carson, Calif. The Americans will play two friendlies at StubHub Center: Jan. 31 vs. Iceland and Feb. 5 vs. Canada.
With camp falling outside of a FIFA window, most of the players will come from MLS teams. The absence of English-based Tim Howard and Brad Guzan should allow Hamid, 25, to start at least one of the friendlies. He has two caps: Venezuela in January 2012 and Ireland in November 2014. With Nick Rimando sidelined, Hamid was the third-choice goalkeeper behind Howard and Guzan for the two World Cup qualifiers in November.
Hamid would miss the first two weeks of United training camp, which will begin in earnest Jan. 23 in Bradenton, Fla.