SANDY, Utah – Despite seeing their outside backs flourish during the start of the 2012 season, Real Salt Lake decided to add another to their ranks on Thursday: Chris Estridge.
RSL agreed to send a 2013 conditional draft pick to Vancouver in order to acquire the player’s rights. Estridge signed a four-year deal and the 22-year-old Indiana product is delighted to get the opportunity to show what he can do in MLS, after being released by Vancouver at the start of the season.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Estridge. “It’s a great feeling to find a home in MLS with Real Salt Lake and to be a part of what is a great squad here. I know my work will be cut out for me in regards to getting time on the field, but I want to do anything and everything I can to help the team progress and accomplish its goals this season and beyond.”
With Estridge coming in, RSL parted ways with rookie defender Diogo de Almeida. The acquisition was essentially the equivalent of trading up in this year’s Superdraft – Estridge was chosen with the 21st pick, ahead of RSL’s selection of de Almeida at the 24th spot. The 2013 draft pick RSL used is conditional, based on the fullback’s playing time this season and head coach Jason Kreis believes that minutes could come sooner rather than later.
“Estridge has come in and shown to be a real fiery competitor, good with his feet and he likes to get forward like we want,” Kreis said. “I think he’s further along right now in the development phase than Diogo is, and when we start getting into the summer we’re going to need everyone to contribute. I think [Estridge] could be ready to play come summer.”
Estridge is a naturally right-footed player but started at left back for the Hoosiers during his college years. He brings versatility to the Utah outfit, as he’s capable of playing on either side of the field. The Indianapolis native feels like he needs to get comfortable with Kreis’s 4-4-2 diamond, but believes he has something to offer his new club, particularly in attack.
“I think I bring a slightly different dynamic,” Estridge said. “I like to get forward a lot. I know that they have very strong outside backs already so I think that I’m just kind of here to fill in and learn from them as much as possible.”