Craig Waibel, Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake's long-term plans led to veteran forward Alvaro Saborio's surprise exit

SANDY, UT. - Just like that, Real Salt Lake’s all-time leading goal scorer has been traded.

On Thursday, an announcement was made that RSL forward Alvaro Saborio had been traded to D.C. United in exchange for midfielder Luis Silva. The trade came as a bit of a surprise to many, but was made with an eye towards the future and added flexibility for RSL’s front office.

“I have a long-term plan and in the planning with the coaching staff, we need to make some moves,” RSL technical director Craig Waibel said (pictured above) during a press conference Thursday. “Obviously it’s been a little bit frustrating this year for a lot of reasons, lack of selection, injuries, and things like that. There just came a time where, as I look down the road for this organization, it was the right time to start considering moving [Saborio] and in the last week, things started to kind of make sense.”

Waibel and his staff finalized the trade late last night, shipping out the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer for a younger midfielder who has shown flashes of potential. The trade also frees up a significant chunk of cap space.

Silva is a fourth-year player out of UC Santa Barbara who is most comfortable as an attacking midfielder, although he’s played a variety of positions over the course of his career.

“He’s just a very good soccer player,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said. “He can find his way on the score sheet, whether it’s through goals or assists. But if you look at his career playing, even through college, he’s been very versatile.

"I spoke to him on the phone today and I said, ‘I scouted you in college and you were a defensive midfielder and a center back and a forward and an attacking midfielder, all within the same year at Santa Barbara.’ So he’s a very good soccer player on both sides of the ball and I think he’s going to be a very nice addition to our team.”

Cassar went on to say that Silva is still only about 85-90 percent fit, so he won’t be available for immediate selection this weekend against Houston (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Silva, however, is seen as a great fit for this RSL roster, and could be one of several acquisitions for the club. Waibel has every intention of using the available cap space to make some additional moves.

“There’s a reason I haven’t shaved, I haven’t had time,” Waibel joked. “This inevitably gives us the opportunity to not only get Silva through this trade, but it opens up some cap space to make another move and we’ll surely be looking to do that. We can add talent now that will be with us for years to come.”

The legacy of Saborio cannot be understated. RSL’s first Designated Player spent five years in Utah and is responsible for some of the clubs greatest moments. He scored a total of 76 goals across all competitions and boasts one of the more impressive stats in the club’s history: RSL was 43-6-12 when Saborio scored.

“When these decisions are made, they’re never easy, especially with a person that’s meant so much to our club [and] our fan base,” Cassar said. “He’s been very instrumental in what RSL is about and it’s not easy making these decisions. [Saborio] scored many important goals for us.”