In deals that were separate yet obviously linked, D.C. United has shaken up its front line by acquiring Patrick Mullins and trading away Fabian Espindola.
Mullins, 24, comes to D.C. from New York City FC in exchange for general allocation money and a senior international roster slot. He is on his third team in as many seasons after being picked by New England in the 2014 SuperDraft and has scored 10 goals and registered six assists in 52 appearances. Mullins, who played his college soccer at the University of Maryland, failed to score in seven games this season for NYCFC, which claimed him in the Expansion Draft a year and a half ago.
“Patrick is a young, dynamic number nine who knows how to create and finish chances,” said United general manager Dave Kasper in a team statement “We have had him on our radar since his time at Maryland and look forward to his continued development here. We are delighted he is joining us and believe in the value he can add to this club.”
During the 2014 SuperDraft, D.C. considered taking Mullins with the No. 2 overall pick and instead went for Cal defender Steve Birnbuam, who is a regular starter for United and has played for the U.S. national team, The Revs took Mullins at No, 11.
Vancouver traded general allocation money to United for Espindola, who couldn’t re-ignite the same chemistry with Alvaro Saborio that they had enjoyed at Real Salt Lake, which first brought Espindola to MLS in 2007. He scored 35 goals in 125 games and helped win the 2009 MLS Cup for RSL, which traded him to the Red Bulls after the 2012 season. After scoring nine goals in 28 games during the 2013 season Espindola signed with D.C. out of the Re-Entry Draft.
Espindola, 31, had scored four goals and registered one assist this season and bagged a goal in the 89th minute as a sub to earn United a 1-1 tie with Columbus last weekend, but struggled to contribute consistently in a rejiggered 4-5-1 formation. United is near the bottom of MLS with just 18 goals in 19 games. He is also seven years older and on a DP contract worth considerably more than that of Mullins.
In his MLS career, Espindola has scored 64 goals and recorded 36 assists in 212 appearances. In Vancouver, he will replace Octavio Rivero, who was transferred to Chilean club Colo Colo two weeks ago though Espindola prefers to float into the spaces behind and alongside a striker.
“We are thrilled to welcome Fabián to Vancouver,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. “He is a proven goal scorer in this league, always difficult to play against, and knows what it takes to win.”