The trade yielded quite a haul for a player that United was not convinced was ready for MLS. Williamson is a U.S. under-20 national team player from Alexandria who played three years at the University of Maryland before turning pro last month. He had 14 goals and 13 assists in his Terrapins career and was named a third-team all-American last fall.
“Eryk is a dynamic young midfielder that has shown his abilities at the youth levels in this country, and his talents were on display this summer with the United States at the U-20 FIFA World Cup,” Timbers Coach Giovanni Savarese said in a written statement. “We believe Eryk is capable of further growth and development, and has the potential to become a quality player at the next level. He is a forward-thinking player and approaches the game with an aggressive mind-set, which are traits that we believe will fit well within our group moving forward.”
D.C. United is “very close” to finalizing a trade of homegrown prospect Eryk Williamson’s MLS rights to the Portland Timbers, D.C. General Manager Dave Kasper said Monday.
United is expected to receive allocation money and other assets, including a percentage of any future transfer overseas.
Williamson, 20, played three seasons at the University of Maryland before turning pro last month. As a graduate of D.C.’s youth academy, he was not eligible for last Friday’s league draft. He was expected to decide between United’s contract offer and opportunity overseas, but with no apparent movement on either front, at least two MLS clubs last week inquired about trading for him.
United and Williamson were at an impasse, Kasper said, so it made sense for the club to collect assets instead of possibly letting him go to Europe without compensation. Williamson is in Portland taking a medical exam and finalizing a contract.
The attacker from Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School was a third-team all-American this past season after posting six goals (three in one match) and five assists for the Terrapins. He had 14 goals and 13 assists over three years.
Aside from his college career, Williamson was a regular with the U.S. under-20 national team the past two years.
He showed growth while engaged in D.C.’s academy program and, for several summer, trained with the first team. However, United’s interest in him was tepid at times. After a standout freshman year, Williamson fell short of expectations the past two seasons and tended to fade in and out of matches. He did have a spectacular moment for the U-20 squad last year, scoring a world-class goal against El Salvador.
Had he signed with United, he would’ve been hard-pressed to earn playing time in league matches this year and might’ve ended up on loan with the second-division Richmond Kickers. With a heavy away schedule before Audi Field opens in July, the club is planning to rely on experienced players. On Friday, hours before the draft, United dealt the No. 3 overall pick to Los Angeles FC for $200,000 in allocation money and didn’t have a selection in the second or third rounds. Two fourth-round selections face long odds of making the squad.
Current homegrown players on United’s roster: defender Jalen Robinson (Catonsville, Md.), defender-midfielder Chris Durkin (Glen Allen, Va.) and midfielder Ian Harkes (Fairfax).
The club is seeking to acquire two Latin American players (an attacker and outside defender) in the coming weeks.
It’s uncommon for an MLS team to trade a homegrown player’s rights before he has signed a pro contract. Last week, however, the Chicago Fire dealt University of North Carolina midfielder Cam Lindley’s rights to Orlando City for defender Rafael Ramos and $100,000 in allocation money. He subsequently signed a long-term contract with the Florida club. Lindley had apparently turned down Chicago’s homegrown contract offer, which prompted the trade.