We as RSL Nation have been very fortunate to not have the constant turnover that plagues the majority of the rest of the league. We've kept our core together longer than anyone else ever in MLS history. Unfortunately we are at the end of that era. Who know how much of our core will stay. I do know we are going to lose someone that I've loved cheering for and it will be a punch to the gut to see them in another team's jersey or out of the league.
This is very difficult but I'm going to go over the core guys and try to objectively say pro's cons and whether or not I think they will be the one(s) that gets the axe. Here we go:
Pros: Has been a great back up, super low GAA, really long, knows our system well, still fairly young for a keeper
Cons: Hasn't gotten better the last 2 years seems to have regressed, $$$, not the quickest, does not cover up his weaknesses well
Final Verdict: I think he is gone. We can't spend $100k on a backup who isn't going to play more than 5 games a year tops. Lalo can do the same things for less money and is much, much younger and doesn't count against the cap.
Pros: Class of the league, PK stopper, great on set pieces, great organizer, healthy almost never misses a game, experience, not old for a keeper, elite GK, plays above his pay level, best footwork of any keeper.
Cons: Height, tends to let goals in bunches, could be more vocal when teams are coming down in attack
Final Verdict: There couldn't be anyone who would think he should be gone. We don't have a backup that is near his level, Keepers take longer to age and he is right at his prime.
Pros: Quick, rarely beaten one on one defending, above average crosser, usually does well getting forward in attack, makes smart decisions, young for the amount of experience he has, does well in group defending
Cons: Height, performs above average against burners but can be beaten by them in footraces, could be stronger, has had some health issues in past seasons, not much of a goal scoring threat
Final Verdict: Again this is a pretty easy, there is not a good reason to get rid of Tony. His pros outweigh his cons.
Pros: Height, total professional, extreme durability, leadership, improved every year here, good target on set pieces, wins a majority of his airel challenges, strong, high motor, elite at CB
Cons: Not the best long passer, average speed (though improving), can be caught out of position, getting older
Final Verdict: Priced right, still has at least 3-4 years left of play at a high level, missed the least games of the core, keep for sure.
Pros: Fastest player in league, extremely strong, best passer with his head in league, big game player, rarely at fault for a goal, impeccable positioning, great instincts, elite at CB
Cons: Injury prone, older , $$$, gets a lot of cards, not vocal, Schuler does a lot of what he can do for cheaper
Final Verdict: One of the hardest choices for RSL to make. If not for injuries he would be a slam dunk to come back. Unfortunately his days with RSL might be numbered and I'll seriously have to fight the tears off as he is one of my top 5 favorite players EVER for any league. Watching him chase down strikers from behind and take the ball away from them is a sight to behold. I sure hope to be wrong on this one.
Pros: Durable, leadership, above average crosser, can be an offensive threat, can play all 4 defensive positions, professional, great at defending the flanks, very vocal on the pitch with his team mates
Cons: Short at CB, just average speed at a spot that usually has top level speed, can be beaten on set pieces by taller attackers, $$$, age, younger cheaper option behind him
Final Verdict: Given the fact that he wasn't protected in the last expansion draft and we didn't have Mansally on the roster I don't think Chris is coming back. I think the team could easily see Mansally and see Tanaka on the street and opt to sign them both for the amount they pay Wingert. It pretty much will suck whenever he leaves as Chris is one of the best players at interacting with the fans and he is a way nice guy.
Pros: Captain, leadership, national team player, elite talent at his position, embodiment of what RSL is all about, heart, high motor, extreme durability, very vocal, great passer, underrated offensive threat
Cons: Cards, doesn't always do the best job of speaking calmly to the ref under the role of team captain
Final Verdict: Simple there is no reason to see our Captain leave just yet. Easily the most important player to our club over the life of the Kreis/Team is the Star era.
Pros: The highest motor of all time, incredible at improving in the face of adversity, never say die attitude, durable, all heart, young, top flight talent at his position, covers almost the entire pitch every game, underrated speed, consummate professional, high soccer IQ, great at PKs
Cons: sometimes has errant passes/shots, not the best with his head, a little too unselfish on his runs, needs to pull the trigger at times rather than try to set up team mates
Final Verdict: Super easy he stays. Would be beyond shocking to see him leave.
Pros: Stays within himself knows his limitations better than almost anyone, very technically gifted, great passer, incredible sub off the bench, clutch
Cons: Age, injury prone,$$$, not enough leadership for his time in the league, many cheaper options that do similar things, disappears for long stretches of the year.
Final Verdict: I love Ned but I fear his time is closing out, he hasn't been protected on several drafts and while he still has some in the tank, at his current salary he is almost certain to be gone next year. Great guy, great team mate it will definitely be sad to see him go. He had his best game of the year last night but seems like too little too late.
Pros: Age, has nearly always dominated his age group and still years and years away from his prime, improves every year, great attitude, still growing apparently, wicked fast striker, potential
Cons: Some day he will leave for Europe, probably going to be paid quite a bit more, yet to win any major hardware
Final Verdict: He has to stay. It would be beyond massive mistake to get rid of Gil when he has gotten better every single year, and looks to be the future face of soccer in the US. Hold onto him as long as we possibly can, especially since he is so young, talented and humble.
Pros: Perhaps the best vision in the league, seems to play a half second ahead of everyone, incredible passer, super high soccer IQ
Cons: $$$, age, hasn't stayed healthy, has stretches every year where he disappears
Final Verdict: I think given how much Javi is paid he will either have to take less money or might be off the team next year. It seems like RSL might just have to pick between Javi and Gil and that would be so heartbreaking. I hate to say it but just like RSL's window is closing (I think for a short while because I really like our youth players) so might be Javi's. If last night was his last game in a RSL kit what a way to go out. He made so many incredible passes. I hope to be wrong on this one.
Pros: Clinical finishes, automatic on PKs, great with his head, puts himself in good positions a lot of the time, great at holding the ball and allowing team mates to catch up, high technical abilities
Cons: Doesn't always defend, occasionally dives rather than play through contact, stays offside for far too long, could definetely improve in the fitness/running hard all game area, too much of the team runs through him and it stalls our attack it would be much better if we didn't try to have everything go through him every time, no major hardware won with us
Final Verdict: He is staying, I really like Sabo and hope he keeps getting better. I would love to see us use him on more dummy runs to open up space behind him, it could really make our offense lethal. I can't think of a scenario where he does not come back to us (short of a huge club paying us $20 million for him).
Pros: Cares more than anyone else (including us fans, the front office, other players, etc), wears down a defense like no one else, completely fearless, great passer, humble beyond belief, great team mate, plays within himself extremely well he knows his strengths and weaknesses, covers literally the entire field, endless motor, great durability (the last few weeks notwithstanding), way cheap for a striker capable of scoring 10 goals a year, defends better than any attacking player
Cons: streaky scorer, lets pressure get to him at times (misses open shots), could definitely improve on getting his shot on frame more, can be caught alone and gets into trouble spots
Final Verdict: He should stay. I would understand why RSL would think about moving on but he is so cheap for a starting striker and as mentioned he cares about this team more than any other person on this planet. I for one would love to see him played some at CAM assuming we got a real 3rd striker. I think he could man the top of the diamond in astoundingly efficient manner.
Pros: Good story, speedy, has shown flashes of brillance
Cons: Doesn't defend well, needs to run more tends to be reactive and not proactive, injury pron, has never been the same since he went down for the year, $$$, height
Final Verdict: I think he should go. We are not getting enough out of him and RSL to be efficient and have a strong attack needs 3 starter or very near starter quality strikers. I would rather see what we have in Braun and Bonfigli and possible draft pick next year. His speed really took a hit when he went down and he has never been the same, he is still fast but not as fast as he was.
So Garth and Jason have quite the decisions to make. If I were them and I knew the core had to change I would definitely keep Nick, Kyle B., Jamison, Nat, Will, Sabo, Fabi, Gil and Tony. I would probably try to keep Javi maybe negotiate his salary. I would definitely move on from Paulo Jr, Kyle R, and Ned. And it would be a tough decision to move on for Wingert so keep him unless it is absolutely necessary to save his salary.
If I'm trying my best crystal ball impression I think the players that are out include Paulo, Ned, Chris, and either Javi/Jamison. The scary thing about Jamison is I've heard that some of the big clubs have been trying to buy him from us for a while and RSL might look at his injury history and decide to finally sell. It made me really sad that last night was almost 100% the last time we'll see some of our players suit up in the right kit at the RioT. This is the worst part about going out so early. Too bad this core was so snake bitten with injuries and bad luck, they were so close to winning 2 supporters shields, CONCACAF and making 2 finals (with 2 MLS cups likely).