Major League Soccer • Free agent forward plans to pursue contract with team overseas.
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Robbie Findley is leaving Real Salt Lake.
The speedy forward who played for the United States in the 2010 World Cup plans to pursue his soccer career overseas, the team said Monday, leading RSL to leave him unprotected for the upcoming Major League Soccer expansion draft.
"We respect his decision," general manager Garth Lagerwey said in a statement, "and thank him for his immensely valuable contributions to RSL as we could not have won a championship without him."
It's not clear which teams have made offers to Findley Findley could not be reached for comment but recent media reports said Brondby IF in Denmark has showed renewed interest.
Findley trained with Brondby two years ago before returning to RSL for what turned out to be its championship season. If he winds up there, Findley would become the second RSL forward to wind up in the Danish Superliga, after Yura Movsisyan joined Randers FC last year.
Findley scored five goals with four assists for RSL last season.
But he struggled to recapture the form that made him the team's top scorer with 12 goals in 2009, straining to perform consistently amid questions about his future.
"It was definitely tough to keep it off of my mind," he said recently. "It took a little while to kind of get over it and just forget about it for the time being. It definitely was in the back of my mind."
RSL protected most of its other regular starters from the expansion draft - including forward Alvaro Saborio, with whom it's working on a new contract. Lagerwey said the sides "continue to make progress" through a complicated negotiation involving several parties.
"It's just an enormously complicated negotiation and getting through the details takes some time," Lagerwey said.
Saborio led RSL with 12 league goals last season, and six more in the CONCACAF Champions League. He's viewed as crucial to RSL's hopes of advancing through the Champions League quarterfinals against the Columbus Crew in February.
Teams were allowed to protect 11 players from being picked by the Vancouver Whitecaps or Portland Timbers in the expansion draft on Wednesday. If a team loses one of its unprotected players, it can "pull back" one of the others and add him to its protected list.
No team can lose more than two players in the draft.
Defender Robbie Russell might be the most notable among the unprotected RSL players, having started 21 of 30 regular-season games after scoring the penalty kick that won the MLS Cup last year. Russell was left unprotected last year, too, for the expansion draft that helped stock the Philadelphia Union, but obviously was not selected.
"There's some agony about this process," Lagerwey said, "as there always is."
Midfielders Ned Grabavoy, Andy Williams and Collen Warner were among the other noteworthy players the team left unprotected. The protection of young forward Paulo Junior suggests RSL likes its chances of buying out his contract from Miami FC, which loaned him to RSL last season.
Meanwhile, league commissioner Don Garber announced at the MLS Cup championship game in Toronto that the league is expanding its playoff field from eight teams to 10 next season, and that all 18 teams will play a "balanced" 34-game schedule. That means each will play every other team both home and away.
The league also is expanding rosters from 24 players to 30, reviving its reserve league, and studying a move to the "international" fall-to-spring soccer calendar.
Garber gave no indication how quickly that might happen, and many analysts view his suggestion as merely a way to pacify top officials at FIFA, who will choose a host for the 2022 World Cup on Dec. 2.
The United States is competing with Australia, South Korea, Japan and Qatar for the right to host the event, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter has frequently maligned the MLS schedule format as out of touch with the rest of the world.
RSL was able to protect 11 players from the expansion draft that will stock the two new teams in Major League Soccer on Wednesday:
GK - Nick Rimando
D - Nat Borchers
D - Jamison Olave
D - Chris Wingert
D - Tony Beltran
M - Javier Morales
M - Kyle Beckerman
M - Will Johnson
M - Luis Gil*
F - Alvaro Saborio
F - Fabian Espindola
F - Paulo Junior
* - Gil was automatically protected as a member of the Generation Adidas development program.
Forward Robbie Findley spent most of four seasons with RSL:
Year G Goals Asts.
2007 16 6 0
2008 29 6 5
2009 27 12 4
2010 24 5 4