Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath waited three years, but he finally brought veteran left back Kemar Lawrence to his team.
The club on Thursday announced it traded college priority rights to 2021 MLS SuperDraft second-round pick Sean O'Hearn and a conditional $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) in either 2022 or 2023 if certain performance metrics are met.
A Jamaica national-team player, Lawrence is a permanent U.S. resident and won't occupy an international spot.
He played for two Supporters Shield teams in five seasons with the New York Red Bulls before he went to Anderlecht in Belgium's first-division team Anderlecht for 15 months. He returned to MLS, this time to Toronto FC for a season.
"We were in for him then, before he went to Anderlecht," Heath said. "So it has been a long process to get him."
The wait brings the Loons a 29 year old who can solidify that left-back position where starter Chase Gasper, center back Bakaye Dibassy and D.J. Taylor have played this season
"We think he's another experienced body, highly experienced, incredibly athletic," Heath said. "A good 1-on-1 defender who doesn't get exposed in the wide areas and really quick in both halves of the field — and he knows the league.
"We've been trying to bring him into the club for three years. To get it done, it's pleasing."
Gasper has started 60 of 63 games in which he played during his first three MLS seasons.
On Wednesday, the club in an unrelated matter announced Gasper will voluntarily enter MLS's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) program for personal reasons. He has not played in the season's first three games after he was hit in the head in the preseason finale. Gasper will be unavailable for team activities until he has been assessed and cleared for participation by the SABH program's doctors.
Heath was asked if long term Lawrence is a starter at that position or left-back depth behind Gasper. "Well, it's up to them," Heath said. "When I look at the group, there's real good competition in all the spaces on the field. We've got lots of competition all over the field."
When all are healthy, Lawrence, center backs Bakaye Dibassy and Michael Boxball and right back Romain Metanire would give the Loons a veteran, experienced backline at all four positions.
"Experience is vital," Heath said. "He's still in his prime. We'll get the next two, three years of him contributing for us."