As a new season begins for Real Salt Lake, there are more questions than answers about this upcoming season. The answers with slowly emerge with the start of a new RSL season:
Will Arturo Alvarez play up to the expectations and his high salary?
Some see Alvarez as a replacement for Findley, but his natural position is in the midfield. Coach Kreis mentioned that Alvarez looked more comfortable playing in the midfield than pairing up as a forward. With the amount of money RSL is paying Alvarez, which is close to Kyle Beckerman’s salary, and from all the hype coming out of the RSL camp, a lot is expected from Alvarez this season. RSL gave up very little to get the highly touted Alvarez, but it will cost them to keep him. He needs to show RSL that he is worth his high salary, for MLS standards. As Alexis Lalas mentioned, the jury is still out on Arturo Alvarez.
Check out the other questions waiting to be answered after the jump.
Is Saborio worthy of a Designated Player?
RSL is literally banking on Alvaro Saborio to continue the success he had last season. Saborio knew that a big payday was dependent on last season’s performance. After playing through injuries, scoring 12 goals, and winning the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, RSL rewarded Sabo by giving him the DP tag. Most DPs are signed without playing a single game in MLS, which makes the potential for a bust much higher. RSL was fortunate in that they were able to see Sabo play for a whole season before signing him. Sabo made it clear to RSL that he wants to play for them, and RSL made it clear to Sabo that they want him by spending the money to buy him out of his contract. Hopefully, he continues his success from last season, stays healthy, and exceeds his 12 goals from last year. Now that Sabo has been rewarded, we can only hope that the motivation is still there.
Who will fill the role of the departed Robbie Findley?
Even with Findley coming off the bench and playing limited minutes last season, he was still a threat with his speed. As mentioned above, Alvarez does not seem to be a replacement for Findley. Last year, Fabian Espindola showed that he could fill that role at times, but he has his issues of being inconsistent and not being able to stay on the pitch due to injuries or card accumulation. If Paulo Jr. can continue his late season heroics from last year, Findley may become a distant memory. RSL needs Paulo Jr. to come out firing on all cylinders, or at the very least become a reliable, third forward off the bench. Now that RSL has won the lottery for forward Cody Arnoux, the former Everton reserve striker, does RSL try to develop him or trade him for much needed allocation money?
Can C.J. Brown fill the void left by the departure of Coach Fraser?
Coach Fraser was one of the most respected coaching assistants in the league, and it was only a matter of time until he was hired by another team to become a head coach. C.J. Brown, who is a former US National player and has 13 years of experience of anchoring the Chicago Fire’s defense, seems like a logical replacement. The transition from player to coach takes time though, as Coach Kreis knows well when he went from player to coach overnight. Even though C.J. Brown made it clear to the Fire that he wanted to remain with them in some type of capacity, they still let him get away. Does the Fire know something RSL does not know, did RSL just get lucky, or will this just become another recent mistake of many by the Chicago Fire?
Stay tuned because we won’t have to wait very long for these questions to be answered. RSL plays its first game of 2011 on February 22 with the beginning of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against the Columbus Crew.