D.C. United is finalizing the acquisition of American defender Brendan Hines-Ike, a likely starter whom new coach Hernán Losada observed while both were in Belgium, people close to the situation said Sunday.
He will join United on a season-long loan, but D.C. will have the option of a permanent transfer after the 2021 MLS season.
United officials said they did not want to comment. Hines-Ike’s agent, Patrick McCabe, also declined to comment.
Hines-Ike, a Denver native who played college soccer at Creighton and South Florida, was selected by Montreal in the 2016 MLS draft but chose to play in Europe. Montreal no longer retains his league rights.
In Belgium, Hines-Ike played for Kortrijk when Losada coached Beerschot. Losada was appointed United’s coach last month.
United’s newest assistant, Nicolás Frutos, is also familiar with Hines-Ike after serving on the staff at Belgian club Anderlecht.
This season, Hines-Ike started eight of 29 league matches and was an unused sub in 11 games. He also started one Belgian Cup match. In his European career, he appeared in 123 matches (106 starts) in all competitions and scored four times.
A natural center back, Hines-Ike could end up starting on the left side of a three-man back line or in the middle of a four-man formation. He has experience at left and right back as well.
As Hines-Ike arrives, United is trading Michael Edwards’s MLS rights to the Colorado Rapids for general allocation money, two people close to the situation said. The amount of money was not immediately known.
Edwards, a 20-year-old center back from Woodbridge, Va., played in United’s academy but passed up a homegrown contract offer to sign with Bundesliga club Wolfsburg in July 2019. (Because he was an academy player whom United tried to sign, the club retained his MLS rights.)
Edwards played for Wolfsburg’s under-19 squad and made 17 appearances (15 starts) for the club’s second team in the German fourth division.
United will begin voluntary workouts this week and start formal exercises March 8 in the D.C. area. Former United standouts Andy Najar, who will turn 28 on March 16, and Rodney Wallace, 32, will receive tryouts in comeback attempts from long-standing injuries.