[MLS TRANSACTIONS] Clubs jumped at the chance to wheel and deal on the first day of the new MLS trading season. Only one deal was a straight player trade. New Portland coach Caleb Porter completed two moves, one of which could bring Brian Gallego, one of his players at the University of Akron, to the Timbers in what is believed to be the first deal for a club's homegrown rights. Heavy on foreign players, Vancouver dealt Atiba Harris to Colorado for an international roster spot. Without a pick in the 2013 SuperDraft, New York picked up one in its deal with Portland. Most active was Real Salt Lake, which completed deals to unload veterans Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Will Johnson in exchange for allocation money. General manager Garth Lagerwey explained what was behind RSL's shakeup ...
Lagerwey told ESPN700’s “The Bill and Hans Show” on Monday afternoon that the moves to trade three key players from its 2009 championship team were intended to lower its salary budget and raise funds to attract new attacking players. RSL's lack of offense at the end of the season resulted in its elimination from the Western Conference playoffs in the semifinals and the Concacaf Champions League in the group stage.
“One of the issues that we’ve had as we’ve kept our core together since 2008," said Lagerwey, "is that the cap goes up about 5 percent a year and our player contracts go up more than that. That forces us into decisions of prioritizing who stays and who goes. For the most part, we’ve been able to hold off the day of reckoning on that for a number of years through the way we’ve structured some contracts through some bonuses and some acquisition fees and things like that. But once we hit the end of this year and we weren’t able to qualify for Champions League and we weren’t able to advance in the playoffs it just became clear it was time to try to restructure our salary cap and create some more resources to try to go after some attacking firepower."
The inability to score goals in and win big games at home has been a historic issue for RSL, whose only league title came in 2009.
"The obvious cases there are Herediano at home [2012 Concacaf Champions League group stage] when a 1-0 win would’ve put us through we don’t score and Seattle in the  playoffs with two games without scoring," said Lagerwey. "But we feel like this issue goes back further than that. If you go back to 2011, we had Monterrey at home to win the Champions League, just needing a tie, and we lose and don’t score. In the 2010 playoffs, we had Dallas at home and any kind of win puts us through and we tie 1-1. In 2009, obviously we won the championship. But in 2008, in the conference final at home against New York, we lose, 1-0. So every example save for one, in the biggest games that we’ve played at home in front of sold-out crowds we have not been able to score a goal and that’s something that we’re seeking to address this offseason.”
While RSL plots its big offensive signings -- Coach Jason Kreis has been on the lookout for reinforcement in South America -- it continued to add depth to its defense with the addition of former Notre Dame defender Aaron Maund from Toronto FC and goalieJeff Attinella, who helped the Tampa Bay Rowdies win the 2012 NASL title.
Colorado-Vancouver:Colorado acquired Atiba Harris from Vancouver for an international roster spot. The 'Caps will be the fifth club for the 27-year-old Saint Kitts & Nevis international.
Houston-Portland: Houston acquired defender Eric Brunner from Portland for allocation money.
New York-Portland: New York acquired Japanese defender Kosuke Kimura and Portland’s natural second-round pick in the 2013 SuperDraft for MLS Homegrown rights for University of Akron defender Bryan Gallego and allocation money.
Portland-Real Salt Lake:Portland acquired Will Johnson in exchange for allocation money.
New York-Real Salt Lake: New York acquired Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave in exchange for allocation money.
Toronto FC-Real Salt Lake:Toronto acquired forward Justin Braun from Real Salt Lake in exchange for defender Aaron Maund.