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RSL makes big moves as Major League Soccer’s off-season is officially “on”

Dec 3, 2012, 9:31 AM EDT

Real Salt Lake v San Jose Earthquakes Getty Images

That Real Salt Lake would shuffle its roster significantly certainly comes as no surprise. The collective of personnel had lost its edge, with a little too much of the “same old” and insufficient gradual infusion of new talent.

When Jason Kreis’ side fell out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals, he and GM Garth Lagerwey acknowledged time for change was upon them.

Still, the swiftness and ferocity of the big moves around Rio Tinto Stadium came as a cold water splash. The offseason is officially “on” in Major League Soccer, gaining speed with little warm-up on Monday as the league lifted its roster freeze following Saturday’s MLS Cup.

Reports have Real Salt Lake trading big defender Jamison Olave and striker Fabian Espindola to the New York Red Bulls.

Further, Canadian international midfielder Will Johnson will go to the Portland Timbers. In both cases, RSL will receive allocation money, about $500,000 combined from both moves, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The club also sheds about $1 million in salary.

So the team has jettisoned a significant piece of the team’s defense, its midfield and its forward line. All three were valued starters. Olave, 31, is the biggest surprise. The 2010 MLS Defender of the Year was a Best XI selection in 2010 and 2011.

But his ability to stay on the field has been increasingly nicked. Olave started 27 times in 2010, but injuries limited the big Colombian to 27 matches in 2011 and just 21 this year.

  1. sir1389 - Dec 3, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    does anyone know if Portland uses a DP slot for the Canadian midfielder?

    • wesbadia - Dec 3, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      I really doubt it. I know Johnson makes a hefty salary, but I don’t think it’s enough to warrant DP status, unless they’re planning on reworking the deal. To me, though, Johnson isn’t DP material. He’s a work horse, a terrier that’s willing to grind out plays in tough spots on the field. Outside of that, he’s not incredibly integral to scoring goals, and he’s not a “Marquez-type” player on the defensive side of things. Awarding DP to a work horse seems a bit overkill.

  2. joeyt360 - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    “Olave started 27 times in 2010, but injuries limited the big Colombian to 27 matches in 2011 ”

    That came out sounding kind of odd.

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