This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The relentless Real Salt Lake offseason continued Thursday. And the latest name to be headed out of town: Sebastian Velasquez. The 23-year-old midfielder has been traded to New York City FC in exchange for allocation money, RSL technical director Craig Waibel told the Tribune. While the deal hasn't officially been announced, it's done and is expected to be announced sometime Friday.
Per league and club policy, the amount of allocation money exchanged will be not disclosed.
Velasquez becomes the fifth RSL player to be moved either through various offseason trades or league draft mechanisms since Dec. 8. The mullet-haired midfielder struggled in his 2014 season after asserting himself as part of the crowded midfield picture during RSL's 2013 run to the MLS Cup final. After starring in five MLS Cup postseason games in 2013 two of which starts and scoring a goal, Velasquez was slowed by an early-season hamstring injury and scraped for first-team minutes. After playing a career-high 892 minutes in 2013 and in 19 league matches, he notched only 222 minutes in 2014 in just 10 league matches where he had one goal and two assists.
"It comes at a point where we feel that, as a club, it's a good time for Sebastian to go on and experience a bit more of a role within the day-to-day performance of the team," Waibel said. "Last year wasn't great for him in terms of minutes played, although he's super talented."
His disappointing 2014 year also featured an arrest for driving under the influence on May 19. On Oct. 8, Velasquez plead guilty to the charge and was sentenced to probation, a fine and community service.
"I think developing players is a huge piece of this club," Waibel said. "The performance of players, the environment of players, the evolution of players, it's not this window where a kid grows up in a bubble and nothing ever changes in their surroundings … The way MLS is structured, you can't keep everyone. There will be change. It's how you make those changes at the right time that benefit both sides. Sebastian will hopefully be in an environment where he is expected to play and be counted on more than last year. That's our hope from him. Obviously we know there's no ill will on either side of this."
RSL's second-round SuperDraft pick in 2013 now becomes the fifth former RSL player to join former coach Jason Kreis at NYCFC. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders, center back Kwame Watson-Siriboe, midfielder Ned Grabavoy and outside back Chris Wingert have been acquired by the new expansion side since Kreis and his staff began assembling their roster.
Velasquez scored his first-ever MLS goal in the second leg of the 2013 Western Conference semifinal against the L.A. Galaxy, which sparked RSL to an eventual 2-0 win in extra time. In the 2013 MLS Cup final against Sporting Kansas City, Velasquez, a substitute, missed what would have been the winning penalty-kick attempt in the longest shootout in MLS Cup history.
"I think that was my moment and it definitely changed me and changed the way I look at the game," Velasquez told reporters at the beginning of the 2014 season, "and I think it's going to help me throughout my career."
RSL also seems to be inching closer to that move at left back. A source confirmed a report by SBNation.com's RSL Soapbox that the club is set to sign 31-year-old Jamaican international Demar Phillips on a free transfer, pending P1 Visa approval. Phillips' stint at Norwegian club Aalesunds FK just ended, which means his move to MLS and RSL is expected to be a free transfer.
Lastly, in Phase 2 of the 2014 Re-Entry Draft, RSL passed. However, the possibility of Aaron Maund's return to the club seems plausible. Global Premier Management, the agency that represents Maund, tweeted that he withdrew from the second phase of the draft due to ongoing contract negotiations with RSL.