Toronto FC picked up versatile veteran Nick DeLeon and shipped out backup goalkeeper Clint Irwin on Friday.
The 28-year-old DeLeon, who played 180 regular-season games for D.C. United over the last seven seasons, was one of three players taken in Stage 1 of the 2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Irwin was traded to Colorado, from whence he came in a January 2016 trade, in a separate transaction in exchange for a second-round pick (39th overall) in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
DeLeon provides experience and depth, given he can play both in midfield and defence. Most recently he spent time at right back.
“Nick is a veteran player that has experience both playing as an attacking winger and also as a defender,” Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “His versatility will be a welcomed addition to our club.”
DeLeon, who made US$275,000 in 2018, was a finalist for rookie of the year after being taken seventh overall in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He made a combined 202 appearances in all competitions for D.C. United, collecting 19 goals and 19 assists.
In a social media posting, DeLeon thanked Toronto for bringing him on board.
“Looking forward to the making the absolute best of it. Will be an exciting chapter for the DeLeon family,” he wrote.
DeLeon leaves DC United eighth in the club record book in games started (161), played (180), minutes played (14,180 minutes), and seventh in shots (224).
“Nick was a model professional for D.C. United for the entirety of his tenure at the club,” D.C. United GM Dave Kasper said. “He gave everything he had for his fellow players, coaches and the fans each time he stepped foot on the field to represent us.”
The 29-year-old Irwin did not figure in Toronto’s plans. The club had announced in November that it was not exercising his contract option.
Irwin eventually lost his starting job to Alex Bono during the 2017 season and, with a hefty salary of $221,300 in 2018, became expendable.
“The deal allows us to bring in an asset rather than losing Clint in the re-entry process as we continue to shape our roster for the 2019 season,” Bezbatchenko said.
Irwin, who started seven league games this season, made 49 career appearances in all competitions for TFC and posted a record of 18-16-13 with 16 clean sheets. Married in the off-season, Irwin served as one of Toronto’s player representatives and served on the MLS Players Association executive board.
Toronto remains on the lookout for a backup ‘keeper to join Bono and Caleb Patterson-Sewell, who served as the club’s No. 3 this season.
Irwin will serve as backup to Tim Howard in Colorado, which recently sent goalie Zac MacMath to Vancouver in exchange for midfielder Nicolas Mezquida and $100,000 in targeted allocation money.
The Rapids also picked up former New York City FC reserve ‘keeper Andre Rawls in the re-entry draft.
Fullback Donny Toia went to Real Salt Lake. Toia, a former RSL homegrown player, also played for Chivas USA, the Montreal Impact and Orlando City.
In taking players in Stage 1 of the re-entry draft, clubs must exercise their contract options.
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