DC United trades Gressel to Vancouver Whitecaps

D.C. United’s Julian Gressel in action during the MLS soccer match against the Philadelphia Union, Friday, July 8, 2022, in Chester, Pa. The Union won 7-0. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

In the first significant roster move in the Wayne Rooney coaching era, D.C. United trades wing-back Julian Gressel to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

In return, D.C. is getting back $900,000 in General Allocation Money that can be used for acquiring new players or re-signing those already on the roster. Gressel did not play Wednesday during United’s 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew due to an injury.

“Under our new Head Coach Wayne Rooney, we expect to adjust our tactical shape,” President of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper said in a statement. “We are focused on bringing in players that fit this new system of play and can help Wayne achieve his on-field vision.”

United will receive $400,000 this year, $200,000 in 2023 and an additional $300,000 in 2024 if Gressel plays three games for Vancouver between now and the end of next season, according to a news release.

Gressel confirmed reports of the trade on Twitter before the official announcement was made. On his Zee Soccer Podcast, the 28-year-old defender said his first meetings with Rooney were “pretty good and positive.” Gressel added that he looked forward to working together with his new head coach to get D.C. back to its winning ways.

Against Columbus, the Black and Red played a different formation, calling for a backline of four defenders. D.C. had been using three center backs and two wing-backs as part of its defensive setup for the past season and a half under former head coach Hernán Losada. 

United has surrendered 39 goals this season, tied for worst in MLS. 

The formation change eliminates the need for the wing-back role, leaving Gressel expendable. It is the first of several moves Rooney is making as the club looks to improve its roster for a possible late-season playoff push. Managing owner Jason Levien told WTOP on Tuesday that United is in “investment mode” to bring new players to Audi Field. 

Gressel arrived to D.C. via trade from Atlanta United in 2020. Known for his crosses and long passes, he led the team in assists for two seasons, ending his time in United with four goals and 23 assists in 73 appearances. This season, he already amassed seven assists for the Black and Red.

“The value of the offer from Vancouver is one that gives us the flexibility to reshape our roster based on the changes in style that Wayne wants to implement,” United general manager Lucy Rushton said in a statement. “We wish Julian luck in the next chapter of his career in Vancouver.”

According to the MLS player salaries data, Gressel was listed to make more than $969,000 in salary this season.

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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