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Real Salt Lake adds midfielder

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 8 2004 10:55 a.m. MST

Real Salt Lake can now jokingly brag about having enough players for a bench warmer.

Four days after the expansion draft increased the team's roster to 11 players, the team added another via a trade Monday.

Real Salt Lake acquired midfielder Jeff Stewart from fellow expansion team Chivas USA in exchange for one of its five Youth International roster spots.

Chivas' drafted Stewart with the 19th pick in last Friday's for Salt Lake, but the trade couldn't be finalized until Monday's trading window opened.

Stewart spent all of 2004 on the Colorado Rapids' injured list because of a serious knee injury.

"We figured we would need to take some chances," said Salt Lake general manager Steve Pastorino. "If Stewart is anything like he was in 2003, he could be a regular for Real next year."

The central defender started 27 of 31 games for the Rapids in 2002 and 2003.

"He's six-feet tall, so he's a bit of a presence," said Pastorino. "He's not the quickest guy, but he's a solid guy who can keep his eye on opposing forwards."

Real Salt Lake still has 16 available roster spots to fill through the MLS Super Draft, player discoveries and allocations. Don't be surprised if a few more players find their way to Salt Lake City via trades.

"There's a couple of ongoing conversations," said Pastorino.

A couple of those discussions are with forward Erick Scott and defender Rusty Pierce, players whose contracts with the league expired at the end of the 2004 season.

Pastorino isn't overly concerned about signing Pierce, but signing the 23-year-old Scott — a Costa Rican international who only played six games with Columbus — could be difficult. Pastorino is hopeful, however, that Scott will see the benefits of playing for an expansion team with no guaranteed starting spots.

ENDLINES: Real's training camp opens in Florida in 10 weeks . . . Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can do so at www.realsaltlake.com or by calling 877-MLS-UTAH . . . Salt Lake's franchise opener will likely be April 2 on the road. It's first home game at Rice-Eccles Stadium is tentatively scheduled for April 16.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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