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SANDY — Just one day after returning from its heartbreaking loss in the MLS Cup final, four Real Salt Lake players had their options declined Monday afternoon.
The Salt Lake club declined the options of midfielders Yordany Alvarez and Khari Stephenson, defender Brandon McDonald and goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
But it's not all bad news as all four players are eligible for the two-stage Major League Soccer Re-Entry Draft, which will take place Dec. 12 and Dec. 18. The draft selection process will also include 64 additional MLS players.
The first stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, which will take place in just three days, could see the Salt Lake club pick up any of the four players by either exercising their current options or extending a bona fide offer.
If they are not picked up by the Salt Lake club in the first stage of the draft, the club can opt to pick them up during the second stage of the draft on Dec. 18, when the club will have seven days to reach an offer agreement with the players.
Following the second stage of the draft, any of the remaining 69 MLS players who were not picked up will be available to any of the 19 MLS clubs on a first-come, first-served situation.
Alvarez has been with the Salt Lake club since being acquired via a loan deal on Sept. 15, 2011, with the USL Pro side Orlando City S.C. Alvarez finished the 2013 season with 18 match appearances and his first goal in the Claret and Cobalt.
Stephenson, one of many who entered the RSL roster prior to the season, came to the Salt Lake club after spending three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes and two seasons with the Kansas City Wizards. RSL signed Stephenson to a contract on Feb. 22, and he finished the season with 19 appearances in the Claret and Cobalt, one goal and one assist.
McDonald entered the Salt Lake club midseason this year via trade from D.C. United on July 17 in the midst of an injury-ridden defender situation for RSL. McDonald spent three seasons with the D.C.-based club, three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes and one season with the Los Angeles Galaxy. McDonald saw three appearances this season with RSL and 12 with D.C. United.
Saunders was signed by RSL on Feb. 22 this year as he was surprisingly available from the L.A. Galaxy last offseason after spending seven seasons with the L.A.-based club. Saunders served as one of the Salt Lake club's goalkeepers to RSL veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando and saw three appearances before he was injured July 13 during the club's match with FC Dallas, tearing his left ACL and missing the rest of the season. Kira Terry is a sports writer covering Real Salt Lake for KSL.com. Follow her on Twitter, @kiraterry.