RSL send Mathis back to LA, grab Portland midfielder with pickBy Kali Korbis • Jan 15th, 2010 • Category: Also Noted
The MLS SuperDraft usually yields a few surprises from Real Salt Lake.
This year, however, the draft-day news centered around a trade that sent veteran midfielder Clint Mathis to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Mathis, along with RSL’s #16 pick in yesterday’s draft, were dealt to LA in exchange for the #15 pick and a third-round choice in 2011.
The defending MLS champions in turn used that pick to select midfielder Collen Warner from the University of Portland, whom Real had been watching for some time. Warner, who had 20 goals and 20 assists during his college career, had the option to trial in Germany and France, but was eventually persuaded to sign with MLS after RSL had expressed an interest in drafting him.
“A lot of teams were interested in me and I’m thrilled to be going to Real Salt Lake,” Warner said after being chosen by RSL. “I’m just excited to follow in the line of the great UP soccer players who are currently playing in the MLS. Real Salt Lake has a lot of good players on the squad and I’m looking forward to playing there.”
During the second round, RSL drafted the University of New Mexico’s Justin Davis with the 32nd pick, whose speed and left-sided ability put him in the team’s top group of available outside backs. The third round saw Real acquire LA’s #39 pick in an exchange for a 2011 third-round choice, leading to RSL’s drafting of center back Chris Schuler from Creighton. Later, the team selected University of Denver defender Kris Banghart with the final pick of the draft.
Although none of the rookies are expected to compete for a starting spot immediately, with RSL participating in the CONCACAF Champions League this year, the team recognized that it needed more depth in several key positions. Head coach Jason Kreis said of the draft selections, “We’ve got a lot more meaningful games this year, so we’re going to need a deeper squad with a greater number of players that can contribute. We feel we’ve addressed some of those needs in this draft, and we’ll continue to try and make this team deeper and stronger going forward.”
The draft selections were largely overshadowed by the Mathis trade, however.
While the deal shocked many fans, RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey both indicated that it had been on the team’s radar for some time. Lagerwey posted a message inferring that Mathis wanted to be nearer to his wife’s family in Southern California on Real’s official Twitter feed shortly after the trade was announced. “Took care of a veteran player in moving him where his wife’s family is. All the best Clint we wish you well,” Lagerwey wrote.
Lagerwey later confirmed that Mathis had asked for a trade in post-draft interviews, stating, “It’s a deal that’s been in the works for a while. Clint had approached us in the off-season and said that, from a family perspective, he wanted to head back to LA. It’s where his wife’s family is. They have a couple of small kids, and he felt like he had held up his end of the deal and contributing, helping us win a championship.”
Kreis said of the Mathis deal, “I believe that players, at some point, deserve a say in their future, so I think it’s beneficial for him to move to LA, and I think in the end it’s maybe beneficial for us. We’re gonna have to get younger. He was one of our older players and also a guy that you don’t know how much he’s got left in him.”