SANDY, Utah – Capping an offseason of unprecedented stability, Real Salt Lake continued to secure its core membership for future seasons with today’s announcement that 2010 MLS Best XI defender Nat Borchers has agreed to a contract extension with the 2009 MLS Cup Champions. The revamped deal will keep Borchers, the team’s reigning Defender of the Year and a finalist for the 2010 MLS Defender of the Year honor, in Claret-and-Cobalt through the 2014 season. Per club policy, financial terms of the contract will not be disclosed.
Borchers’ new deal will be among the many RSL-related topics the stalwart center-back will discuss during his weekly Monday conversation with hosts Bill Riley and Spencer Checketts on today’s edition of ESPN 700’s “Bill and Spence Show” at 5:40 p.m. MT.
“Once again, we couldn’t be more pleased that a key member of our squad has made a commitment to Real Salt Lake for the long-term,” said Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey. “Nat’s leadership qualities both on the field and in the locker room have been a vital part of our success and will continue to be in the seasons to come.”
The contract extension for Borchers marks the latest master-stroke of a successful 2010/11 offseason for the Real Salt Lake Technical Staff, today’s announcement coming on the heels of similar agreements with GK Nick Rimando (2013) and MF Will Johnson (2014) within the last month. In addition, the Utah side shored up its attacking corps across November and December by making 2010 MLS Newcomer of the Year Álvaro Saborío (2014) the team’s first Designated Player, trading for El Salvadoran international and MLS veteran Arturo Alvarez during the Expansion Draft, and extending the loan deal for exciting Brazilian striker Paulo Jr. through 2011, with the option to purchase his rights through 2014 at season’s end.
“I feel fortunate to have come to a long-term agreement with Real Salt Lake because I believe we have something very special happening with this team right now,” said Borchers. “Before these talks started I came to the club and told them that I didn’t want to play anywhere other than here, so I’m thankful we got a deal done and am looking forward to helping out the team in any way I can. We’ve got a lot of good years left in the core group we’ve locked up, so I couldn’t be more excited for the future of Real Salt Lake.”
The 29-year-old Borchers received long-overdue accolades and praise during a 2010 season in which he anchored a defense that was the best in Major League Soccer’s 15-year history, the team smashing the League mark for goals allowed in a regular season by allowing just 20 tallies in 30 contests (previous mark of 23 GA set by Houston in 2007). In addition, no one was more responsible for RSL’s 567- and 568-minute shutout streaks – the third and fourth longest such marks in League annals – as Borchers was on the field for all but 27 minutes of the regular season, leaving the field only towards the end of a season-opening 3-0 win at San Jose after suffering a severe gash on his head during a collision for a 50-50 ball.
The Colorado native was also a key cog in the team’s successful run in CONCACAF Champions League Group A play, starting five of the six Group Stage contests en route to Real Salt Lake becoming the first Major League Soccer side to win its group in nine tries since the competition’s reformatting for 2008/09. RSL’s resident “Ironman,” who finished fifth across MLS in minutes played (2,673), would have started in all 40 of Real Salt Lake’s regular season, CCL, MLS Cup Playoff, and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup contests in 2010 had it not been for the coaching staff, which forced him to stay in Utah during the team’s longest road trip of the season to Panama in August in order to get some well-deserved rest for the stretch drive of the campaign.
While known for his cerebral, yet physical approach to the center back position, Borchers also provided an offensive punch last year, starting off his trio of clutch goals on March 14 at San Jose, his header with two minutes remaining in added extra time tying the U.S. Open Cup Qualifier at 3-3 and allowing RSL to advance minutes later via a 5-3 triumph in penalties. Late in the season he produced unlikely and timely goals off of a pair of backwards headers while crashing the penalty area, his tally in stoppage time on Sept. 25 against Colorado extending RSL’s League-record home undefeated streak to 24 games via a thrilling 1-1 draw, and a repeat performance a week later starting the scoring in a 2-1 win at New England that marked the squad’s first-ever win on an artificial surface.