In a move that unexpectedly alters the look of D.C. United’s corps of forwards and reflects the state of one of the most erratic franchises in Major League Soccer, United has acquired second year forward Casey Townsend from Chivas USA in exchange for a second round draft pick in 2014.

Townsend, who scored 43 goals in four seasons at Maryland – third-most in program history – was the fifth overall pick in last year’s college draft. The 23-year-old native of Traverse City, Mich., had one goal and two assists in 17 appearances (10 starts) for Chivas as a rookie.

The glaringly lopsided trade – one that wouldn’t be approved in a league like the NBA – comes as new Chivas USA coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, a.k.a. Chelis, attempts to remake the Los Angeles club in a Mexican-American image.

“We were quite surprised that Casey was available for a trade and we pounced on it,” United general manager Dave Kasper said in a statement.

For D.C. United, Townsend’s arrival could reshape the pecking order up front. Lionard Pajoy is the frontrunner to open the 2013 as the starter in a role where coach Ben Olsen expects work defensively and holding the ball as much as scoring prowess. Pajoy is a notoriously poor finisher. But Olsen also said the team wants to take its time with newly-signed designated player Rafael, who is just 20 years old. Hamdi Salihi, last year’s designated player, remains out of D.C. United’s plans although his future has yet to be determined. Long Tan is still a work in progress as is 16-year-old Michael Seaton. Chris Pontius can also play up top, but it remains to be seen if D.C. United prefers him there or on the wing.

[UPDATE: With Townsend's arrival, United has released Tan, who finishes his D.C. tenure with one goal in six games (three starts).]

Townsend is a known quantity whose relative inexperience in MLS won’t work against him. Instead, he’ll move in right alongside two other former Terps teammates: Taylor Kemp, who was acquired in last week’s draft, and Ethan White.uir