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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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RSL signs defender Chris Estridge, hoping he's ready to play soon

Defender Chris Estridge has become the newest RSL player.

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The team has signed him to a four-year contract after acquiring his rights from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a conditional draft pick next year, releasing second-round draft pick Diogo de Almeida in order to make room on the roster under the salary cap rules. Curiously, Estridge was chosen by the Whitecaps just three picks ahead of de Almeida in the second round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft but is more prepared to play, at this point.

"He's further along the development phase right now than Diogo is," coach Jason Kreis said. "And when we start getting into the summer, we're going to need everybody to contribute."

Kreis said the team felt de Almeida was simply progressing too slowly, and wouldn't be ready to play at the MLS level by the time RSL really needed him.

Estridge, for his part, can play outside back on either side of the field — "he's another guy that it's hard to tell whether he's right-footed or left-footed," Kreis said — is good with his feet, and likes to get forward the way RSL wants. The 22-year-old was released by the Whitecaps before the season, and has been on trial with RSL for several weeks, impressing the coaches in several reserve league games.

"It's a huge relief" to earn a spot, the 22-year-old Indiana alum said. "Just finally getting somewhere is huge. It's been a little bit of a long journey so I kind of would have hoped that this would have worked out a couple of weeks ago, but I'm just glad to have it now."

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