So I am not going to kid anyone if I said that everything was super peachy with the RSL roster, that losing 9 players from 2011 that contributed over 6,500 minutes of playing time in MLS action wasn't going to make an impact. Yet when I look at the names who were invited to camp with RSL, a mix of draft picks and trialists, I gain a level of comfort. I got more comfortable when I learned that RSL had come to terms with both Yordany Alvarez and Paulo Jr, two players that I think will play major roles in 2012.
Yet as I look at the potential depth chart for RSL, it is clear that some players you may never have heard of before January will need to make an impact for RSL to have a successful 2012. There are two positions that I am not really worried about for RSL and I will take a look at them in Part 1 of my look at the RSL roster:
Keepers - RSL is three deep at keeper with Nick Rimando firmly in control of the starting position, and is simply one of the best keepers in MLS. Nick may not have the size that many coaches look for in a keeper, but his instincts for the game and great reflexes have kept him at the top of his game for years. In his 86 regular season matches over the last 3 years he has 36 clean sheets, he has simply become a rock for RSL in goal.
Kyle Reynish may be the best backup that nobody has ever heard of, yet when he has been called upon, he has stepped up, did you know that Kyle has never lost while in goal for RSL in a MLS match? Yup, I like having someone who has been around several years and has a great relationship with the guys who can step in goal when called on and nobody worries about it.
Lalo Fernandez was a off season Home Grown Player signing and will occupy the 3rd keeper slot for RSL, at 6'3" and just 19 years old he will have plenty of time to learn from some of the best MLS has to offer.
1- Nick Rimando
2- Kyle Reynish
3- Lalo Fernandez (HGP)
There is no position on the field where I have more confidence in RSL than in the net, you have to believe that we have perhaps the most solid corp of keepers in MLS.
after the jump a look at the men up top:
Forward/Striker - The team ended the season with a couple of question marks last year. Paulo Jr. who had some question about his recovery from a hamstring injury as well as an unsettled contract status. Well I have been told that both of those issues are no longer issues and Paulo will be fighting for his playing time along with the rest of the guys.
The second question mark was the injury status of Alvaro Saborio, while he played 23 regular season games last year, he played almost all of them at less than 100% a nagging knee injury that had offseason surgery before the 2011 season, simply never was fully recovered from. RSL this year again have him recovering from a follow up surgery but this time without the early pressure of Champions League, so I would be very surprised if we see Saborio playing before April.
While that might concern some people, Sabo was RSL's top scorer with 11 goals in 2011. I believe that with a healthy Paulo Jr., a healthy Cody Arnoux, and the speedy Chris Agorsor that whoever plays up top at the start of the season with Fabian Espindola that RSL will be just fine. RSL did select a couple of forwards in the supplemental draft, Emiliano Bonfigli is with them in Arizona, but Oliver Kupe isn't with the team right now he is back at Northwestern finishing up his degree work and will join the team later this year. With some of the off-season losses and knowing some of the injury issues that they had to deal with last year, I can see RSL keeping 6 forwards on their roster this year.
1- Alvaro Saborio
2- Fabian Espindola
3- Paulo Jr.
4 - Cody Arnoux
5 - Chris Agorsor
6 - Bonfigli/Kupe ( I expect one will probably stick with the team)
While some people may have questions about our forwards I actually think this could be a year where several guys jump up to make a huge impact. Last year it was all about what could Paulo Jr. do, and I think that is probably a big question mark again this year, healthy and now signed to a deal there is nothing but upside for him heading into the 2012 season. I also like what we could see from Cody Arnoux and Chris Agorsor this year, both battled injuries since joining the team but both appear to be healthy and ready to contend for minutes. Then there are the rookies, I am hearing some good reports about Emiliano Bonfigli and what he is doing early down in Arizona, the tough part will be can RSL afford the international spot that will be needed to sign him?
Up later this week a look at two areas that have me a bit more concerned our midfield and defense.
OFF MY SOAPBOX