Aiming to bolster its defense before training camp opens, D.C. United is far along in talks with Belgium-based American Brendan Hines-Ike, people close to the negotiations said Sunday night.

Hines-Ike, 26, has played overseas for five years, first with Orebro in Sweden, then Kortrijk in Belgium since the summer of 2018. Hernán Losada, United’s new coach, and assistant Nicolás Frutos are familiar with Hines-Ike; both coached against him in Belgium before joining D.C.

United officials said they did not want to comment on player pursuits. Training camp is scheduled to open March 8, and the MLS season is slated to begin April 17.

Hines-Ike, a Denver native, is a natural center back who could play left back or right back, particularly if Losada institutes a three-man back line. (Under Ben Olsen, United typically played with four in the back.)

Donovan Pines, entering his third year, and veterans Steven Birnbaum and Frédéric Brillant are the returning center backs. United also drafted Wake Forest’s Michael DeShields, who probably will start his pro career with second-division Loudoun United.

In United’s three-man setup, Pines would probably start on the right side, Hines-Ike on the left and Birnbaum or Brillant in the middle.

Joseph Mora, United’s primary left back for three years, would vie with Kevin Paredes, 17, for the job at left wing back.

Hines-Ike played college soccer at Creighton and South Florida, then was drafted by Montreal but chose to play overseas. (Montreal no longer owns his MLS rights.)

In Belgium, he has made 38 league starts in 2½ seasons, plus seven in the playoffs. This year, he has started eight league matches and a cup game. He was not in uniform for Kortrijk’s 2-0 victory at Anderlecht on Sunday.

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