SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - In a franchise changing day, Real Salt Lake traded veterans Fabían Espíndola and Jámison Olave to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for allocation money. Hours later, they dealt midfielder Will Johnson to the Portland Timbers, also for allocation money. Per league and club policy, the amount of allocation money exchanged will not be disclosed.
Espíndola, 27, signed with Real Salt Lake on Aug. 17, 2007, briefly leaving the club following the 2008 season before re-signing with RSL on May, 4, 2009. The Argentine striker appeared in 125 regular season games – including 104 starts – in six years with the Utah side, scoring 35 goals, registering 17 assists and getting named to the 2012 MLS All-Star team.
“We thank Fabían for everything he did for RSL over the last six seasons,” Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerwey said. “He was a huge part of our success and the club truly wouldn’t be the same without him. He’s a great player and a great individual and we wish him the best of luck in New York.”
Olave, 31, joined RSL on Feb. 20, 2008. The talented Colombian defender was a rock for RSL in the middle of the back line, appearing in 120 regular season games – 119 of which were starts – for the Claret-and-Cobalt, winning the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year Award and earning spots on the 2010 MLS Best XI and 2010 and 2011 MLS All-Star teams.
“Jámison has been a great player for RSL and we thank him for his years of service to the club,” Lagerwey said. “He’s a uniquely talented player and arguably the best defender in club history. We wish him continued success in New York.”
Both Espíndola and Olave are in RSL’s all-time top-10 in numerous statistical categories. Espíndola is second in Claret-and-Cobalt history in goals (35), fourth in assists (17), first in shots (253) and shots on goal (121), seventh in games played (125) and tied for eighth in games started (104). Olave is eighth in RSL history in games played (120), sixth in games started (119) and minutes played (10,320) and 10th in goals scored (10).
Both players played a major role on RSL squads that won MLS Cup 2009, advanced to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final and qualified for an active league-high five-consecutive MLS Cup Playoff appearances from 2008-12.
“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.”
Johnson, 25, spent the better part of five seasons with RSL, arriving at the club on Aug. 22, 2008. The Canadian international appeared in 114 regular season games – starting 104 – for the Claret-and-Cobalt, scoring 10 goals and notching eight assists in MLS play for the Utah side. Johnson also was voted the 2008 MLS Goal of the Year winner.
“We thank Will for his five incredible years of service to Real Salt Lake,” RSL GM Garth Lagerwey said. “He was a big part of RSL’s foundation, playing a major role in our 2009 MLS Cup Championship, our run to the 2010/11 CCL Final and our five-straight postseason appearances.”
Johnson was a key part of the RSL core during his time in Salt Lake. Known for his strong work rate on both sides of the ball, Johnson is eighth in RSL history in games played, games started and minutes played (9,445) as well as sixth all-time in shots on goal (77).
Along with being the only player in club history to feature in all 16 of RSL’s CONCACAF Champions League matches from 2010-12, Johnson is one of just three players to participate in all 14 of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s MLS Cup Playoff games. He is third all-time in RSL history in postseason minutes played (1,187), trailing only GK Nick Rimando and MF Kyle Beckerman (1,320 each).
Johnson was a part of RSL squads that won MLS Cup 2009, advanced to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final and qualified for an active league-high five-consecutive MLS Cup Playoff appearances from 2008-12.
“Will’s arrival in the summer of 2008 was one of the major tipping points in our club’s history,” Lagerwey said. “RSL truly would not be where it is without Will. We can’t thank him enough for helping us establish not only a good team, but also a winning culture. We wish him all the best in Portland.”
Real Salt Lake also announced the club has signed defenders Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran to contract extensions. Per league and club policy, terms of the deals will not be disclosed.
“Chris and Tony have both played integral roles in RSL’s success,” RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey said. “As we redefine our team’s core, we feel that they’re two critical building blocks for our future. They’re standout players and individuals and we’re thrilled to have them both back.”
Wingert, 30, joined RSL via trade with Colorado on July 13, 2007. RSL’s longest-tenured field player, the Babylon, N.Y. finished 2012 tied for second on the team in league appearances (31), third in starts (30) and third in minutes played (2603). All three numbers were career highs for Wingert, who is third in RSL history in MLS appearances (153), fourth in starts (142), fourth in minutes played (12,668) and eighth in assists (11).
“I’m really excited,” Wingert said. “I’ve said all along that Real Salt Lake is where I wanted to be. I love all the guys on the team – it’s been a great 5 1/2 years for me here and I’m looking forward to being here in 2013 and beyond.”
Real Salt Lake selected Beltran with the third overall pick of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. The 25-year-oldright back was a full-time starter for the first time in 2012, leading RSL – and setting career highs – with 32 MLS appearances, 32 MLS starts and 2,857 minutes played. Beltran is 10th in club history in MLS games played (110), 10th in games started (99) and ninth in minutes played (8877).
“I just want to thank the organization for giving me their full support in representing this club in the future,” Beltran said. “I'd like to thank Head Coach Jason Kreis and the rest of the back room staff for helping me grow exponentially, both personally and professionally, every year. Five years ago I arrived in Salt Lake City to begin my professional career. I can't stress enough how much this city has taken me in as one of their own, and I have come to truly consider SLC my home. I feel privileged to be able to continue my career here, and I promise to give my all for the team and our amazing supporters.”