With the club mired in an 11-game winless stretch, it traded for the veteran Swiss defender to help stabilize the back line.
D.C. United traded a second-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and a 2016 conditional draft pick to the Vancouver Whitecaps for 30-year-old versatile defender Alain Rochat Thursday.
Rochat, who can play at left back, center back or in the midfield, is in his third season in MLS. Since moving from FC Zurich, the Canada-born Rochat has been a key figure for the Whitecaps, playing in 67 games and making 65 starts. He started the Whitecaps' last game, a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls, and he scored five goals and had three assists in the last two seasons.
"Alain will provide us immediate help with his experience and leadership," D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said in a team release. "He is a highly technical and intelligent player who can play on the back line or in the midfield. We are very pleased to welcome Alain to D.C. United."
Rochat is the second recent acquisition after the club signed winger Sainey Nyassi off waivers last week. D.C. sits at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference with a 1-10-2 record and has not won since March 9, a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.