Chris Wingert, the reliable, hard-tackling left back, started 2013 on the wrong foot.
Rather, he started 2013 on a broken foot, and his first appearance for Real Salt Lake on the season came at the start of May. This wasn't too bad, really, as it forced us to explore backup options from the very start, and we integrated Lovel Palmer rather immediately into things. But it was hardly ideal, and when he came back, Wingert looked somewhat rusty.
Still, once he came back into the side, he started eight consecutive matches, which leads us to believe that recovery was something he was very good at. This boded well.
Wingert is not the most attacking full back, nor is he the best with his crosses. When we accept these things, a picture starts to form of a full back whose role is nearly a midfield role in attack. Through many matches, he was near the top of our passing charts, connecting on the left flank and helping to build play on that side. This sort of thing went a long way toward helping our system really tick over, and that's something we saw plenty of in 2013.
All told, Wingert didn't have a remarkable year in either a good or a bad sense. He had a solid year, but with no assists to his name, his attacking productivity wasn't at its peak.
He's not getting younger (certainly not; that would be preposterous), but Wingert, 31, should have a few more years left in him yet. One does start to wonder how, exactly, we start developing a serviceable backup in his spot, and this will inevitably be a substantial part of Wingert's 2014. He'll also want to push forward in attack more, and perhaps send in a few more crosses, particularly ones that end up meeting a teammate (MLS chalkboard stats indicate he had fewer than 10 accurate crosses through 2013.)
His veteran presence can't be ignored, and he's still the best player in his spot. He's not going anywhere, but he can certainly improve in 2014.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.