The Houston Dynamo completed their first transaction in the transfer window period by trading defender Mike Chabala, midfielder Lovel Palmer and an international roster spot to the Portland Timbers for midfielder Adam Moffat and allocation money.
The trade gives Houston a hard-working midfielder head coach Dominic Kinnear has wanted for more than a year. It also brings them increased financial flexibility.
“I think our organization has been forthcoming about wanting to make changes in the transfer window,” said Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti. “I’ve been working with Dominic to try and acquire Moffat since he was in Columbus, so we got him in return and we moved around some salary and acquired some allocation money to help make some moves.”
The Scottish-born Moffat plays a similar style to that of Palmer. Both players are hard-working midfielders who can provide cover in front of the defensive back four.
The 25-year-old—who is expected to join the club tonight in Los Angeles and be available for selection Saturday night against Chivas USA—started his MLS career in 2007 and appeared in 44 games for the Columbus Crew.
Moffat’s best season was in 2010, when he started 23 games, notched two goals and added an assist. However, he has seen just four substitute appearances in Portland after the club made him an expansion selection before the season.
“I’ve always liked his tenacity and the way he closes down balls, and I think he’s a good player,” Kinnear said. “He’s not getting the playing time in Portland and maybe a change of scenery will be good for him.”
In Palmer and Chabala, the Dynamo are moving two players who have played roles as both starters and key reserves.
“Today we acquired two experienced MLS players,” Portland head coach John Spencer said in a statement. “Both Palmer and Chabala give us a great deal of versatility both on the back line and in the midfield.”
Chabala has spent his entire career in Houston and worked his way up through the reserve system to become a regular contributor for the first team.
“Anytime you want to get something, you have to give something in return,” Kinnear said. “For both players it’s tough, because I’ve been with [Chabala] his whole career and he’s been a good guy in the locker room and on the field.”
Houston are pulling back allocation money and—with the move of Palmer and Chabala’s contract—will open significant cap space for the club to make additional moves in the summer transfer window.
“There are a lot of different scenarios out there for us right now,” Canetti said. “We’re trying to be aggressive here and make the appropriate moves to help us move up in the playoff race coming down the stretch.”
The Dynamo currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference but are only seven points behind the first-place Philadelphia Union. The Timbers, meanwhile, find themselves in eighth place in the Western Conference and need a strong and resurgent second half of the season to keep any playoff hopes alive.
“Sometimes a move is good for players,” Kinnear said, “and hopefully this one is [good] for all three guys.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.