SANDY, Utah — It was sort of a bad news, good news day for Real Salt Lake on Wednesday — two stalwarts gone in the Expansion Draft, but one former standout returning to the team.
As RSL anticipated, both midfielder Ned Grabavoy and defender Chris Wingert were taken by NYCFC in the Expansion Draft. And directly on the heels of that, the team announced that they had acquired defender Jamison Olave from the New York Red Bulls, two years after RSL sent Olave to New York.
“It's tough,” RSL coach Jeff Cassar told MLSsoccer.com. “You never want to lose two people like Ned and Chris — two people that have meant so much to the organization. We're definitely going to miss them.
“We hate to lose Chris and Ned, but we did understand that we were going to lose two players that we didn't want to.”
When the decision was made not to put Grabavoy, Wingert and defender Nat Borchers on RSL's protected list, the team was resigned to what would happen, especially because NYCFC is coached by former RSL coach Jason Kreis. Kreis guided the 2009 team, featuring all three players, to the MLS Cup title.
“If we could have protected 14 players, we would have. But we were anticipating losing them,” Cassar said. “And we knew that it was important that, if we did lose players, could we get something back in return to allow us to then pursue replacements.”
Which is why RSL worked a trade with Portland earlier this week, sending Borchers to the Timbers.
“That allowed us to get allocation to then use to acquire Jamison,” Cassar said.
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And that leaves Real Salt Lake with an imposing pair on the backline — 6-3, 210-pound Olave and 6-4, 185-pound Chris Schuler.
“I really like where our starting lineup is in the back line,” Cassar said. “Obviously, we need to address some needs, but we will do that in the near future.”
Including, maybe, a left back to replace Wingert. RSL has re-signed Abdoulie Mansally, and is “in talks right now with a replacement for Chris at left back. It's getting very close,” Cassar said.