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D.C. United acquires center back Derrick Williams from L.A. Galaxy

Derrick Williams, right, seems likely to partner with captain Steven Birnbaum in central defense. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

D.C. United on Thursday began to address its defensive deficiencies by acquiring Derrick Williams from the Los Angeles Galaxy for $180,000 in 2024 general allocation money.

Williams, 29, is a left-footed center back who also can provide cover at left back. He will join a defensive corps that conceded an MLS-worst 71 goals last season.

“He’s a well-seasoned professional with experience at the highest levels of our sport and understands Major League Soccer,” Dave Kasper, United’s president of soccer operations, said in a statement. “He’s an exciting addition for us and we look forward to welcoming him into the fold and into Wayne Rooney’s system.”

In 2020, United sought to acquire Williams from England’s Blackburn Rovers before trading his MLS discovery rights to the Galaxy for $125,000 in general allocation money before the 2021 season. He started 20 regular season matches in 2021 and 24 this year, then made two substitute appearances in the playoffs.

His 2022 base salary was $750,000, according to the MLS Players Association; United was expected to sign him to a one-year guaranteed deal at an undisclosed figure.

Williams was born in Germany to an Irish American mother and a German American father who served in the U.S. military. He spent much of his youth in Ireland and has represented the Irish national team three times. As a U.S. passport holder, he does not occupy an MLS international roster slot.

Williams began his pro career in 2011 with Aston Villa, an English Premier League club, before spending three English seasons with Bristol City and 4½ with Blackburn. Five of his last six years in England were spent in the second-flight Championship, with the other in third-tier League One.

In Washington, Williams seems likely to partner with captain Steven Birnbaum in central defense. Donovan Pines and Brendan Hines-Ike, who is recovering from a significant foot injury, are also in the mix. (United is expected to exercise an option on Pines’s contract before Monday’s deadline, securing the former Maryland Terrapins star for a fifth season.)

United also is pursuing a right back in the international market, said two people familiar with the plans who did not want to be identified, citing the sensitivity of negotiations. The club is also seeking attacking help after scoring a league-low 36 goals, those people said.

The Williams acquisition was United’s first major move since it fired general manager Lucy Rushton last month. The club is in the process of interviewing candidates. Kasper, Rooney and others on the technical staff are handling roster matters for now.

Note: Goalkeeper Luis Zamudio, midfielder Ted Ku-DiPietro and 16-year-old defender Matai Akinmboni reported to Swansea City of the English Championship for several weeks of MLS offseason workouts. United’s major investors, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, own the Welsh club.

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