With Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert out with injury and Jamison Olave departed for lands more metropolitan, Kwame Watson-Siriboe knows he and the rest of RSL's younger defenders will be needed as soon as the 2013 MLS campaign kicks off.
Watson-Siriboe, confident in his abilities, doesn't see himself as a replacement for former RSL mainstay Olave, citing a different sort of skill set that defines him as a player. "Everybody wants to say that's pressure, but I think it depends on how you take it," Watson-Siriboe said of replacing Olave in the lineup.
"He's a great center back, he has attributes that have made him one of the best center backs in the game right now, but I'm not him," Watson-Siriboe told reporters during Real Salt Lake's media day. "I have different attributes that I think are positive that I can bring also to Real Salt Lake. We're different players in a sense that we're very strong, decent aerial game — obviously, he's a beast, he's very good — but I think I shouldn't be compared to him because we're two different players, and I'm going to try to play the best that I can and put 100% out on the field."
Borchers, who formed a famous partnership with Olave that reached its apex in the RSL's defensively dominant 2010 season, said that defensive pairing was successful in part because of the unique physical attributes the Colombian possessed.
"You make adjustments based on the physical attributes of every player," Borchers said. "Jamison Olave is probably the most physically imposing center back this league's ever seen. I think you could probably put just about any other center back next to him in this league and they're going to do just fine, I think just based on his physical attributes."
But despite Olave's physical qualities being vital to that relationship, Borchers sees Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler as presenting something that might be more beneficial to Real Salt Lake's tactical approach.
"With Schuler and Kwame, they offer different things," Borchers said. "Where Jamison maybe wasn't as vocal, you've got Chris Schuler, who's a little more talkative; Kwame's on his way up in that sense as well. Physically, both of those guys are very tall and can win anything in the air. They're very good with their feet. That's a step above Jamison in terms of what they bring with their possession game."
With Nat Borchers set to be out for at least the first weeks of the season, Watson-Siriboe is looking to continue the development of his partnership with Chris Schuler and with the other central defenders at the club.
"It's playing defense and playing center back with that partnership, not hesitating and going into a ball 50-50, going 100% and making sure your teammate is covering you," Watson-Siriboe said. "Now, I think the partnership is good; Schuler and I talk, but I think it's going to continue on.
"They're great people off the field, so I think us talking, hanging out with each other, would continue to transition on to the field," he said. "I think we'll work well together myself, Schuler, Borchers, Aaron Maund — I think no matter who's in the back, we'll be successful."