Just a few hours before Real Salt Lake's 2013 MLS season opener, the club announced the signing of defender Rich Balchan. Per league and club policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.
Balchan, 24, spent the past two seasons with the Columbus Crew, but was released at the end of the 2012 season. He began training with RSL on February 12 and made several appearances for the club in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.
“I’m pretty excited,” Balchan said in a statement released by the club. “It’s been kind of a long road trying to find a new team, so I’m excited to get back after it. It’s a good group of guys and a great staff. All the way from the coaches to the trainers, just top to bottom it’s a really talented group and there’s a lot of depth here. Whether you’re playing in games or if it’s in practice, it’s all very competitive and we’re all going to make each other better so it’s just a great atmosphere to be in.”
Balchan could play a role right away for his new club. RSL's defense has been hit with a string of injuries, including to veterans Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert, both of whom will miss the opening weeks of the season.
Before being drafted 12th overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Balchan was a standout at Indiana University, not far from his hometown of Carmel, Indiana.
His rookie year in Columbus saw him make 19 appearances – including 18 starts – but injuries derailed his sophomore season (no appearances).
Balchan is eligible to play in RSL’s season opener away to the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday (10 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).