A Closer Look at the 2012 Real Salt Lake Roster Part 4 - The Roster

I try to get in the mind of RSL head coach Jason Kries(photo) and RSL GM Garth Lagerway as I predict the 2012 RSL roster. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

In a little over 48 hours Real Salt Lake, and the 18 other teams of Major League Soccer will need to submit their roster to the league to ensure they are in compliance with roster and salary cap rules (which we looked at in Part 3). So I thought I would do my best (with limited knowledge and a opinionated viewpoint) to predict what roster Real Salt Lake will enter the 2012 season with. Now this really isn't that tough of a task, as there are plenty of known factors and by my latest count RSL has filled 22 roster spots, which means they have just 8 spots left, but I don't expect that the team can or will use all 30 spots.

So again just to review a bit, MLS rosters have 30 slots, 20 which count against the salary cap, and 10 spots which are classified as "Off Budget Players". In addition to those rules, we know that RSL has just 6 international slots to work with. Now I know that a number of RSL players have applied for their green cards, for my roster I am going to work off an uninformed assumption that just 1 player will have gotten theirs in time for the March 1st deadline.

Now we know that RSL currently has 4 players in those OBP slots, both of our Generation Adidas players ( Luis Gil and Enzo Martinez) and our two current Home Grown Players (Nico Muniz and Lalo Fernandez). We know that Enzo Martinez will need one of RSL's six international slots.

On the 20 man roster side, we can take the players we know have contracts: Paulo Jr., Yordany Alvarez, Cody Arnoux, Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Fabian Espindola, Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson, Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Kyle Reynish, Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio, and Chris Wingert. Plus I see Chris Schuler being moved from the Off Budget roster to the Budget roster That is 16 players and 4 international slots (but I am going to minus my one for potential green card) so we have:

  • 4 slots open of a potential 20 on the Salary Budget Players Roster
  • 6 slots open of a potential 10 on the Off Budget Players Roster
  • 2 international slots open of the 6 slots allocated to RSL

after the jump, I fill in the blanks

Now it is important to know that while the salary cap is tight, RSL gets a little breathing room from some allocation money that they get for qualifying for CONCACF Champions League, and I believe that they might also use the rule that allows them to leave two spots open in the Off Budget Player roster and get $35,000 in allocation money for each slot. So with that being said, let's take a look at what else we know:

We know that two players have said via twitter that they have signed deals with RSL for the 2012 season, and neither is a stretch for me. First is our 3rd pick in the MLS Draft, Sebastian Velasquez, who I believe will probably be signed to a deal that will put him on the Off Budget Players roster, typical for draft picks. Second is Jonny Steele, who is a bit more seasoned and while he may not be making much more than some of the off budget players, it makes sense to put him in one of the 5 open slots on the Salary Budget Player roster. Neither Jonny or Sebastian will need an international slot.

So with those facts in mind, an update to our status:

  • 3 slots open of a potential 20 on the Salary Budget Players Roster - Jonny Steele
  • 3 slots open of a potential 10 on the Off Budget Players Roster - Sebastian Velasquez & 2 spots for allocation $$
  • 2 international slots open of the 6 slots allocated to RSL
Now this is where things get interesting, and where any changes to the green card status of current players or potential new players could change things up in a hurry.

I think RSL needs a couple more defenders, the first one is an easy pick for me and someone RSL has had eyes on for over a year, Leone Cruz. I think he will be signed and I expect that he will be signed to a lower dollar deal that will put him on the off budget roster.

I think RSL would love to have two more outside backs and right now they have 3 guys who look like they could be up to the task, first is draft pick Diogo de Almeida who by all estimations is probably a couple years away from being a regular contributor and would need an international slot, second and third are trialists (Terukazu Tanaka and Lance Laing) both are more experienced and I feel could contribute right away for RSL, but both would require international slots, additionally Laing has a discovery claim filed by Columbus that could complicate signing him.

It pains me a bit to not have Laing, who has impressed me each time I have seen him play, I think RSL goes with Tanaka who they will sign to a salary budget deal and occupy an international slot. If RSL gets help with a green card I think they will sign de Almeida, but if they don't I think they will probably be looking to the waiver draft to find another outside back.

I think RSL needs that international slot to sign Emiliano Bonfigli, to what will likely be another off budget slot and RSL's final (if my prediction of them getting 1 international slot back via a player getting their green card is right). I think RSL made their intention to sign Bonfigli known when they released Chris Agorsor.

So there you have it, that is the extent of what I think RSL can do by Monday, now all of this changes if more than 1 player who has applied for their green card receives or has received theirs by Thursday, but without knowing that I am going to stick with RSL heading into the 2012 season with a 26 man roster that looks like this:

#

Player

14

Yordany Alvarez

27

Cody Arnoux

5

Kyle Beckerman

2

Tony Beltran

6

Nat Borchers

7

Fabian Espindola

1

Lalo Fernandez

21

Luis Gil

20

Ned Grabavoy

8

Will Johnson

19

Enzo Martinez

11

Javier Morales

16

Nico Muniz

4

Jamison Olave

23

Paulo Jr.

24

Kyle Reynish

18

Nick Rimando

15

Alvaro Saborio

28

Chris Schuler

35

Jonny Steele

26

Sebastian Velasquez

17

Chris Wingert

22

Emiliano Bonfigli

33

Leone Cruz

3

Diogo de Almeida

53

Terukazu Tanaka


Which leaves us some open room to move as the season progresses:
  • 2 slots open of a potential 20 on the Salary Budget Players Roster
  • 2 slots open of a potential 10 on the Off Budget Players Roster
  • 0 international slots open of the 6 slots allocated to RSL
So what do you think of my picks for the RSL roster? Am I ready to be a MLS GM?

OFF MY SOAPBOX
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