With the annual MLS Combine set to begin tomorrow in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, RSL general manager Garth Lagerway participated in a conference call late this afternoon with the media. The colorful GM had a number of interesting tidbits to pass along, most notably that RSL has decided not to purchase the contract of striker Fabian Espindola on a permanent basis.
Here is a rundown of what Lagerway had to say:
As things currently stand, striker Fabian Espindola, who scored five goals in 12 appearances last year, will not be back with RSL for the 2009 season. Lagerway said that RSL decided to not pick up his option, which amounted to not buying out his contract with his previous club as Salt Lake did with stars Jamison Olave and Javier Morales.
“We haven’t ruled out bringing back Fabian,” said Lagerway, who noted that RSL could try to extend the terms of the loan deal. But “nothing’s imminent right now.”
RSL is also mulling what to do with fellow striker Kenny Deuchar, who signed a two-year deal with Salt Lake a season ago. Lagerway said that MLS recently changed its rules to allow teams to buy out the contracts of players, and Real has been considering whether to do that with Deuchar, who arrived with much fanfare last spring but only scored three goals in 29 games.
When asked which way RSL is leaning with regard to Deuchar, Lagerway said it?s ?hard to speculate? and pointed out that final decisions might not be made until March 2nd, the date MLS teams must become salary-cap compliant.
Real Salt Lake will be staying domestically-based throughout the 2009 preseason, and an RSL spokesman said that RSL’s preseason schedule will be finalized in the next week or so.
A year ago, RSL tripped to Argentina in preparation for the 2008 season, but there will be no comparable trip like that this time around.
“I’d be lying in the current economic climate if I said that didn’t play a role,” said Lagerway.
Heading into this year’s MLS draft, the big priority for Real Salt Lake is to maintain its core group of players and try to find something to add to it, bearing in mind that such additions likely won’t contribute immediately.
“Our message is that we already really like our team,” said Lagerway. “We have a core to build off, and we’re not gonna trade away someone needlessly.”
As far as making additions to the squad go, Lagerway said RSL is looking for another left-sided player to give the team ?two or three more tactical options? and is also looking at possibly bringing in another striker.
Lagerway feels that this year’s draft pool is better than it was last year. He also thinks there are a handful of extremely talented players at the top of this year’s draft class.
“There’s some exceptional talent at the top. I think it will be blatantly obvious by the end of the combine who those players are,” said Lagerway. “No one’s gonna be trading away those picks.”
RSL picks 12th overall in next week’s MLS draft and also has a pair of picks No. 54 and No. 57 in the fourth round.