Win-win: Colorado Rapids' Paul Bravo explains rationale behind Nathan Sturgis-Carlos Alvarez trade

Nathan Sturgis and Carlos Alvarez swap teams

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Before they did anything else this offseason, the Colorado Rapids re-signed Nathan Sturgis to a new contract, handing the midfielder a pay raise after a quality 2013 season that featured four goals and a solid presence in the heart of the midfield over 25 appearances.

Seven months later, Rapids technical director Paul Bravo, the same man who had just re-signed Sturgis last November, traded the 26-year-old to Chivas USA on Tuesday for attacking midfielder Carlos Alvarez

So why did the Rapids get rid of a player they valued highly so recently? Well, for starters, Sturgis was not seeing minutes under new head coach Pablo Mastroeni, and Bravo said management was up-front with the nine-year veteran about where he stood on the pecking order.

“We talked to Nathan over the last couple of weeks about where he stands,” Bravo told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “The emergence of young players, the stability of [Nick LaBrocca], the fact that you can play Dillon Powers in there as well; we’ve got a lot of flexibility within our group [at Sturgis’ position].” 

Bravo listed three reasons to MLSsoccer.com for making the deal. The first was giving Sturgis a chance to play. The second was what the Rapids got in return: the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s SuperDraft, whom Bravo believes can be a difference-making attacking midfielder.

Despite Alvarez’s unquestioned struggles in the statistics department this season (no goals or assists in 11 appearances), Bravo is optimistic the University of Connecticut product can turn it around at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“Part of the thinking was getting a player in return that we had valued,” Bravo said of Alvarez, who was expected to first train with the Rapids on Thursday morning. “Good two-way player, has creativity in the final third, hard-working. A good person in the locker room. He’ll fit well with the other young players that we’ve been able to bring in as well.”

Finally, the Rapids saved money in the deal, potentially helping clear budget room for the summer signing window. Essentially, the Rapids look at it as a win-win: getting a player (Sturgis) a chance to play elsewhere while saving money and getting back a young player (Alvarez) who could help in a spot of need.

“I think this was beneficial for both sides,” Bravo said. “At the end of the day, to be able to get a player like Carlos, now we’re in a position where we’ve accumulated some young and talented pieces.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.