The Designated Player fell out of favor with the club last year, losing his starting role and expressing his unhappiness with head coach Mike Petke over a lack of playing time with head coach in the summer. He hasn’t been with RSL at any point this preseason and has been training individually near his home in Southern California.
Movsisyan and RSL discussed a contract buyout at various points this winter, but they couldn’t agree to terms. Sources said that Movsisyan wants the full amount owed – slightly under $4 million – on the two years remaining on his contract and that RSL were not willing to reach that number.
That impasse led to the club waiving him earlier this week. The move frees up $504,375 of salary budget space and a DP spot for Real Salt Lake. Movsisyan will continue to be paid by the club. By waiving him, RSL assumed full responsibility for his entire salary; the league will no longer pay the first $500,000 of his salary in 2018 or 2019 as they do with DPs on active rosters.
RSL and Movsisyan can agree to a contract buyout at any point, though the sources said that looks unlikely before he potentially agrees to terms with a new team. If he is bought out, Movsisyan would be free to sign a new contract with any team in the world.
Movsisyan will be available to be picked up via waivers by the other 22 MLS teams until 5 pm ET on Friday. To pick him up, any interested MLS club must notify the league office of their intent to claim Movsisyan and the amount of his salary budget charge they’re willing to absorb. RSL will be on the hook for paying Movsisyan any difference between that budget charge and his actual salary in 2018. In 2019, a source said, the claiming team would pay Movsisyan’s entire salary of just under $2 million. Because they’d be on the hook for his full 2019 salary, the sources said, it’s unlikely any team will claim Movsisyan via waivers.
If he clears waivers, any team will be able to offer Movsisyan a new deal. Before signing with a new club, he’d have to agree to a buyout with RSL. If he doesn’t sign with a new team, he’ll continue to be paid his full salary under his current contract.
Movsisyan spent parts of three seasons with RSL last decade, moving to Europe after helping the team win MLS Cup in 2009. He returned to the club on a one-year loan from Spartak Moscow in January 2016, recording nine goals and three assists in 29 appearances in his first season back in Utah. He was permanently acquired by RSL last winter and began last year as the starting striker but shifted to the bench in the summer, tying for the team lead with seven goals in 28 regular season appearances.
RSL open their season on Saturday at FC Dallas (7:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE).