We now know that Aaron Maund has left the club in exchange for essentially a pittance from Vancouver Whitecaps, and frankly, it might seem like a weird move on the surface of things.
Maund established himself in 2015 and 2016 as a core part of the team. He was one of the only highlights from 2015, when the team missed the playoffs for the first time in ages. But as strange as the move might seem on the surface, digging in reveals it as a positive move for the team and the player.
For Real Salt Lake, it is a move that opens up salary budget space for another player, and it moves a player in a position at which we have unprecedented depth. There is no reason a team playing two center backs needs six at that position, particularly if all of those players are healthy. The signing of Marcelo Silva essentially sealed that decision.
After all, there's no mistaking that Justen Glad is starting material for RSL. Fate willing, he will be a starter here for many years — unless, of course, he manages a big move with a big paycheck in his eyes. One could hardly blame him if he went to Europe in the next three years.
With Glad as the presumptive starter, Silva signing further sealed Maund’s fate. Silva, presumably a player not far under the maximum player budget in this league, was intended to be a starter, and a starter he should be. Does it mean he will pan out in the way which we are hoping? Certainly, we would be wise to play it somewhat safe in this regard. But the early signs are positive.
David Horst and Chris Schuler are left as backup, then, and Justin Schmidt is an emergency option and a long term development prospect. RSL is left comfortable with its defensive depth, and that's a surprise at this point in the year, given we struggled so mightily before.
From Maund’s perspective, it's clear that this is a move to a team that needs depth, and we have already seen that he is capable of seizing an opportunity when it is presented. He is at a point in his career, though, when he should be assured of minutes, and this provides some difficulty.
Still, a transfer now with eyes toward a starting position in a year or two might be Maund’s best hope. It appears, at least for now, that we have figured out our starting pair for the next lengthy period.
Is there an element of uncertainty in this move? Absolutely. It may spell the end of his starting career in MLS. He might find himself a permanent backup player. There's no shame in that, at any rate. His long-term career is not, at this point, in jeopardy. For the team, it could mean losing out on a player just coming into the peak of his career.
And that's the real kicker. We've just lost Maund for a long-shot draft pick. That stings a bit, just because we may gain nothing with this move in a tangible sense. Sure, it opens roster space we may need, but it doesn't change what we've lost.
Whether you loved our hated Maund, there's no sense denying that when things were darkest this decade for the club, he was a ray of light. It's never fun to lose a player that has established himself in that manner. But needs change, players come and go, ands the transfer wheel in MLS just keeps spinning. Where it lands next remains to be seen.