Season Preview: Squad retooling sees RSL with opportunities

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake moves into 2013 with a retooled squad and a tactical refocus on attack. With young players set for opportunities, new players looking for chances and veterans aiming to prove their worth, it's promising to be an exciting — if stressful — season.

Last year's record

57 points; Western Conference, second place; W: 17; D: 6; L: 11

It was hardly as well as we could — or should — have done, and that record doesn't much reflect the CONCACAF Champions League group stage exit, nor the US Open Cup failure, nor the early playoff exit to Seattle. It wasn't the best of seasons, and a retooling has taken place in part as a result, and in part because of the restrictive nature of MLS.

Key additions

Robbie Findley: The striker returns to the club after a two-year stint at Nottingham Forest (with time on loan at Gillingham) and has looked an improved player in preseason. If Findley, at the physical peak of his career, can find individual success, the club will have a good shot at winning trophies.

Joao Plata: He's the sort of player that 'diminutive striker' as a cliche was built for. He's got fantastic acceleration, is very good with his feet, and isn't afraid to shoot. He'll be a much-welcome addition to the striking force.

Olmes Garcia: There's not much yet to be said about Garcia, given that we've seen only bits and pieces of him during his very short preseason. Still, there's much promise and hope that he'll be a fantastic addition.

Khari Stephenson: An experienced player, Stephenson brings a bit of stability and an older, wiser head to a considerably younger midfield than we've fielded before.

Josh Saunders: Saunders, formerly of consecutive-cup-winners LA Galaxy, comes in to provide reliable backup for Nick Rimando. He'll likely be called on when Rimando goes off to the Gold Cup with the U.S. Men's National Team.

Less key: Cole Grossman, Lovel Palmer, John Stertzer, Devon Sandoval

Key losses

Jamison Olave: The immensely physical defender was a huge (literally and figuratively) part of our back line for five years, but concerns over his ability to remain fit every week — as well as a sizable paycheck — saw him shuttled off to New York alongside ...

Fabian Espindola: The effervescent striker in a side that sometimes lacked magic, Espindola delighted fans with his goalscoring ability. Inconsistency plagued him during his time at Real Salt Lake, though, and in the end, he, too, is off to New York.

Will Johnson: The Canadian-American-somewhat-British midfielder was an essential part of Real Salt Lake's tactical approach, but a reshaping of that approach saw him traded to Portland Timbers. Johnson, whose salary likely was the damning factor, was very much a part of Real Salt Lake's identity. With his departure, opportunities arise in midfield — as well as a chance for a more attacking look to form.

Less key: Paulo Jr., Jonny Steele, Emiliano Bonfigli, Justin Braun, Nico Muñiz


Opportunities

Luis Gil: The 19-year-old is on the verge of cracking his abilities, and while he didn't turn too many heads in 2012, he gained a consistency that belies his years. Moving forward, he'll have the chance to really make his mark on MLS.

Sebastian Velasquez: The young, bright attacking midfielder will get early chances to prove his worth; if he's ready and performs well, he'll be forcing Jason Kreis to make some difficult decisions.

David Viana: Young, attack-minded, skillful, and eager to cut inside: Viana is the prototypical sort of young, European attacking midfielder that turns heads in top leagues. He's not quite at that level yet, but the 21-year-old could well make waves in 2013.

Enzo Martinez: Though he didn't see the field in 2012, Martinez has developed incredibly well and responded well to the inevitable pains of not playing. His best position in the diamond is still unclear, but he'll just be hoping for minutes.

Projected starting lineup

Rimando; Beltran, Borchers, Schuler, Wingert; Beckerman, Grabavoy, Gil, Morales; Saborio, Findley

Subs: Saunders, Watson-Siriboe, Velasquez, Grossman, Viana, Plata

Optimistic prediction

After a stop-start 2012, Real Salt Lake finally starts firing on all metaphorical cylinders, goals flow in, and the Supporters Shield is hardly an issue. Optimistic? Obviously. But the pieces are in place for a fantastic year — it's simply a matter of those pieces fitting together properly.

Pessimistic prediction

Real Salt Lake creeps into the playoff picture late in the season and narrowly makes the play-in qualifier, but loses to — of course — Seattle Sounders. Who else, right?

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join RSL Soapbox

You must be a member of RSL Soapbox to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at RSL Soapbox. You should read them.

Join RSL Soapbox

You must be a member of RSL Soapbox to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at RSL Soapbox. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker