Cast-offs: RSL continues to benefit from once-undervalued players

Photo courtesy of LA Galaxy

Real Salt Lake has for some time been regarded as a club which gets the best out of players other MLS clubs have cast off, ignored, or under-valued.

One needs only look at the core group of players currently at the club to see that principle in action.

Nick Rimando, who was traded alongside Freddy Adu to Real Salt Lake in exchange for Jay Nolly, allocation money, and future considerations — whatever those are.

Kyle Beckerman, who was traded to Real Salt Lake in exchange for Mehdi Ballouchy. That trade was perhaps the least balanced in MLS history — Ballouchy ended up leaving Colorado shortly before they won the MLS Cup, while Beckerman was there in 2009 for RSL's big victory.

Ned Grabavoy was acquired in the 2009 Waiver Draft after a year with San Jose; prior to that, he spent two years with Columbus Crew and three with LA Galaxy. He's grown into a veteran player with Real Salt Lake.

Chris Wingert played fewer than 1,000 minutes for Colorado Rapids over two years before being dealt to Real Salt Lake and firmly embedding himself in the core.

* * *

One can look at the younger sections of Real Salt Lake and see similar patterns developing — but these players have yet to really make it in MLS or for Real Salt Lake. Some, of course, are closer than others.

* * *

Kwame Watson-Siriboe was criminally undervalued at Chicago Fire, seeing zero senior minutes in 2012 and 2011; he's since come into Real Salt Lake and shown well as a capable central defender.

Kenny Mansally was played as a forward and winger at New England Revolution for five years before being cast aside during Jay Heaps' first year of coaching. He's come to Real Salt Lake as a modern attacking full back.

Lovel Palmer joins Real Salt Lake having played a season-and-a-half at both Houston Dynamo and, more recently, Portland Timbers; he comes to the club as a relative veteran — though with some doubts underlining his name at times.

Cole Grossman never saw too much time in his first two years at Columbus Crew — 12 games played, five started — and when he was waived at the end of the 2012 season, Real Salt Lake happily picked him up in the waiver draft.

Aaron Maund was part of a collectively awful Toronto FC side in which he played nearly 1,000 minutes as a rookie and could find himself thrust into the action at Real Salt Lake fairly early with injuries claiming Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert for the early weeks.

* * *

Every MLS club deals with the rehabilitation of players to an extent, and there's certainly no guarantee that Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerwey will once again be successful with their newer acquisitions.

Some pick-ups in the past haven't come off well at all, but plenty of players have seen their careers revived under the auspices of perhaps the best coach-GM pairing in the league.

If RSL signs former LA Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders or former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Khari Stephenson, the list will grow — and the opportunities alongside it. Both remain with the club in this final leg of the preseason in Tucson, Ariz., where they'll certainly get chances to show well in the Desert Diamond Cup.

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