Soccer: Real Salt Lake declines options on four players
Let the offseason begin.
Two days after losing in a penalty shootout in the MLS Cup final to Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake said Monday it has declined options on midfielder Yordany Alvarez, defender Brandon McDonald, goalkeeper Josh Saunders and midfielder Khari Stephenson.
All four players will be made eligible for Thursday's MLS Re-Entry Draft.
The first stage of the Re-Entry Draft, in which RSL will select 18th out of the 19 MLS teams, is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. MDT, as clubs can claim some of the 68 eligible players by exercising current options or extending them bona fide offers as stated by the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players who aren't selected in the first stage of the Re-Entry Draft will be available for the second stage slated for Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. MDT.
If a player isn't picked up following the second stage of the Re-Entry Draft, he becomes available to any club interested.
Former RSL players Fabian Espindola (New York Red Bulls), Mehdi Ballouchy (San Jose Earthquakes), David Horst (Portland Timbers) and Salt Lake City native and Skyline alumnus Justin Braun (Toronto FC) also are available in this year's Re-Entry Draft.
Of the four players whose options were declined, Alvarez was with the club the longest, having been with RSL since September 2011. He signed a three-year contract in February 2012. The 28-year-old defensive midfielder played in 18 regular-season matches in 2013, starting 11, scoring one goal. Stephenson and Saunders were added to the club last year. The 32-year-old Stephenson saw the field 19 times in the regular season, while starting nine matches. He scored one goal.
Saunders, signed as a primary backup to starer Nick Rimando, tore his left ACL on July 13 against FC Dallas, in what was only his third game for RSL. Saunders missed the remainder of the season due to the injury.
McDonald arrived with RSL in a trade with D.C. United on July 17, a move made to shore up an injury-riddled backline. He started three matches for RSL in 2013.