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By IVES GALARCEP
The MLS trade window opens on Monday, and when it does open, Real Salt Lake will be at the forefront of a busy window filled with some blockbuster deals.
RSL is set to trade centerback Jamison Olave and forward Fabian Espindola to the New York Red Bulls for a large amount of allocation money, pending league approval, multiple sources confirmed to Soccer By Ives on Sunday.
The trade is one of several Real Salt Lake has lined up to reconfigure a team that had no choice but to change up its roster because of salary cap issues.
RSL are also set to trade Canadian midfielder Will Johnson to the Portland Timbers for allocation money, sources confirmed to SBI. The Canadian national teamer has, along with Olave and Espindola, been a regular starter for RSL for years.
The two major deals won’t be the only moves RSL makes in the coming days, with sources telling SBI that some other trades are also in the works.
Several MLS teams have agreed to trades in recent days, but a league-wide moratorium on trades until after MLS Cup has kept those deals from being approved.
By trading away Olave, Espindola and Johnson, RSL are set to save $1 million in salary, while generating more than $500,000 in allocation money, sources with knowledge of the deals confirmed to SBI.
Losing Olave and Johnson are two big blows, but RSL is well-equipped to replace them, with highly-regarded centerback Schuler slated to step into the lineup and Luis Gil the natural replacement for Johnson.
Espindola continued to struggle with inconsistency in 2012, leaving RSL desperate to address the need for more goals this winter. Their allocation haul is likely to be used to help the team land a quality forward to partner with Alvaro Saborio.
The Timbers will be overjoyed to land a quality player like Johnson, a 25-year-old midfield force who should slot in well into Caleb Porter’s expected 4-3-3 system.
For the Red Bulls, Olave gives the team a rock at centerback, though injury issues have diminished his standing after being voted MLS Defender of the Year in 2011. His arrival makes even more sense given reports suggesting Markus Holgersson won’t return in 2012.
The addition of Espindola gives the Red Bulls the kind of fast forward the team wants to have partner with Thierry Henry, and could mean some more moves in the works for New York.
Sources with RSL, New York and Portland could not be reached for comment on the pending trades.
What do you think of these trades? Think RSL is smart to make these deals or do you think the team dismantled its squad too soon? See the Red Bulls improving with the addition of Olave and Espindola?
Share your thoughts below.