Sat, Apr

Real Salt Lake finalized their long-anticipated acquisition of Trinidad & Tobago defender Marlon Rojas on Tuesday, further adding to their lineup of talented internationals. Rojas is slated to join his new teammates in Monte Gordo, Portugal, on Wednesday.

Rojas normally plays as a left back but he can also be used in an attacking role, either on the left or centrally. Thus far in the 2006 World Cup qualifying cycle, Rojas has served the Soca Warriors from the back line, using his pace and crossing ability to help T&T advance to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.

"Marlon Rojas is a very experienced international player and I was able to see him play recently against the U.S. national team in round two of World Cup qualifying in Trinidad & Tobago," said RSL head coach John Ellinger. "As a coaching staff, we are excited for him to join the team and expect him to fill the opening left by Pablo Brenes, who was recently traded."

The 25-year-old has started seven of his country's nine matches since the start of qualifying, missing two full matches -- against Mexico and St. Vincent and the Grenadines -- and part of a third due to an ankle injury. Rojas played a full 90 minutes on Feb. 9 against the United States, picking up a yellow card but not making a real difference as the Soca Warriors fell 2-1 to the USA.

If Ellinger uses Rojas as Brenes was used last season by Bob Bradley with the MetroStars, he would likely play on the left side of the midfield, where he would add to an already potent attack that includes Jamaican international midfielder Andy Williams, U.S. international striker Clint Mathis and the league's all-time leading scorer, striker Jason Kreis. If Ellinger instead uses Rojas as T&T national team manager Bertille St. Clair uses him, he would complete a very talented starting defensive unit.

Veteran U.S. international Eddie Pope serves as the anchor of Ellinger's back line, and Brian Dunseth, another recent arrival to the Wasatch Front, is likely to be Pope's partner in the middle. Rojas seems to be a good candidate to fill the left back spot, but with Evan Whitfield, Matt Behncke, Nelson Akwari and Rusty Pierce all in the mix, Ellinger may choose to liven up his midfield with Rojas' tenacity.

Prior to joining RSL, Rojas spent his entire professional career in his home country, having spent time with Superstar Rangers, Police FC and Joe Public, with whom he won the T&T Pro League title in 2004. Rojas played college soccer at both St. John's University and the University of Tampa, winning the Division II national title at the latter in 2001. He spent time with D.C. United in 2003, but departed prior to the start of the regular season.

Rojas is the fifth international to join RSL in advance of its inaugural campaign. Pope, Mathis, Williams and Zimbabwean forward Dipsy Selolwane are the others.