Sandy • With three of the team’s center backs injured, the Real Salt Lake front office added some reinforcement Wednesday, sending draft picks to D.C. United for veteran defender Brandon McDonald.
The 27-year-old made 62 starts, scoring three goals and notching five assists, in two and a half seasons in D.C. Last season, he was the club’s top defender, but recent struggles saw coach Ben Olsen move him to the bench.
“I know what I’m capable of doing,” McDonald said Wednesday morning after his first training session with his new teammates. “It’s just about getting my confidence back and getting back in the gear I was in last year.”
Salt Lake gave up a third-round pick in next year’s MLS draft and a conditional pick in 2015 for McDonald. Injured defender Rich Balchan was put on the disabled list to open up a roster spot for McDonald, who goes from being relegated to a reserve role on a last-place squad to having a chance to win a starting job for first-place RSL.
“The basic premise of ‘Money Ball’ is that you try to acquire undervalued assets,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “We’ve had a long track record of picking up pieces that other people don’t want anymore and cultivating their talents, and that’s a credit to our coaching staff and the guys in our locker room who believe in our system.”
Lagerwey, however, said that the team’s center backs Aaron Maund, Carlos Salcedo (who is recovering from a gallbladder surgery that will cause him to miss at least a week) and Chris Schuler (who is out for another month with a foot injury) will have the “first bite at the apple.”
McDonald said he welcomed the chance to play for coach Jason Kreis in Salt Lake.
“My ultimate goal is to win regardless of where I am, what position I am in the table. At the end of the day I’m a winner,” McDonald said. “It’s unfortunate the situation I was in with my guys in D.C. It didn’t quite go the way we wanted to, but this is a new opportunity for me and I’m happy about it.”
The trade has reunited McDonald with some familiar faces. While with San Jose, McDonald roomed with RSL midfielder Khari Stephenson for a year and a half. And growing up in Phoenix, McDonald played on the same youth club as forward Robbie Findley
“He’s a big, strong defender. Very vocal in the back and good with his feet. I think he’ll fit in perfectly with what we have here,” Findley said. “He’s got a fresh start, now he’s got to prove to the players and coaching staff that he’s ready.”