SANDY — When Monday morning rolled around, it put an official end to Major League Soccer’s roster freeze.
Real Salt Lake rolled out a furnace.
The Claret-and-Cobalt made transactions involving 12 players, including four trades, two re-signings, a new signing and declining the contract options of four players.
“The idea, the philosophy behind all the moves is to fundamentally restructure our salary cap to setup what will hopefully be another long, successful run and to identify positions where we have good young players who are ready to step up and contribute,” said Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey on ESPN700 Monday afternoon.
“We also want to address what we feel is a key issue going forward which is to acquire more goal scorers. We want to get players on our team in all positions who can score goals in big games. As you know, the team is the star and that remains the case. We’re not talking about going out and getting star, big-name players but we’ve had a number of times now in big games where we weren’t able to get a goal when we absolutely had to have it.”
Reports first started surfacing late Sunday night about just how busy the opening of the MLS trade window would be for Real, with three of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s First Choice XI being moved.
Those trades were finalize on Monday, with Real sending forward Fabian Espindola and defender Jamison Olave – the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year – to New York, and outside midfielder Will Johnson to Portland. Salt Lake will receive allocation money from both the Red Bulls and Timbers for both moves.
“Fabían and Jámison were huge parts of RSL’s foundation,” Lagerwey said. “They both played major roles in our 2009 MLS Cup championship, our run to the CCL Final and our five-straight postseason appearances. Unfortunately, all of this continued success has placed severe salary cap constraints on the club. Those constraints were the driving force behind this trade, which we believe will help us reload for the 2013 season.”
Forward Justin Braun, a Salt Lake City native that RSL traded for over the summer, was also traded to Toronto in exchange for defender Aaron Maund.
Maund comes to Real Salt Lake after spending his rookie season with Toronto FC. The 12th overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Maund made 15 MLS appearances for TFC. The center back started nine league games, making the first XI in eight of Toronto’s final nine matches.
Defenders Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran both signed contract extensions with Real on Monday, keeping RSL’s defense largely intact. The team declined contract options of forwards Emiliano Binfigli and Paulo Jr., midfielder Jonny Steele, and backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.
Real signed goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who the club drafted in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft, to a contract. Attinella comes to RSL from the North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, whom he helped guide to the NASL title earlier this year.
“By acquiring a lot of allocation money today we’ve affected a seven figure swing from a cap perspective. To be clear we came into this offseason where we knew we had to cut 25 percent of payroll and we have done that. We’re now under the cap and with the all money we’ve acquired through various deals we now have enough we think to go out and acquire a couple of forwards and potentially possibly a third player,” Lagerwey said.
“As our fans see these players moving out through these various trades, it’s important to remember who this core is. Going up the spine of our team you’re still looking at (Nick) Rimando, (Nat) Borchers, (Kyle) Beckerman and (Alvaro) Saborio. And we’re in negotiations with Javier Morales, as well.
“What we’re doing right now is tweaking our core. We’re trying to get a little bit younger, but, to be honest with you; it’s all about the right mix of experience and youth. We want to keep the mentors in place to take along and educate our younger players so we can hopefully have a good transition without a big dip in form.”