With preseason officially under our belts, we can start to take a look at the patterns we saw, the bright spots we can hope for, and the things on which we must improve. Today, let's look at a few players that have looked particularly bright.
Sebastian Velasquez has shone very brightly indeed in his second preseason with Real Salt Lake. His first saw him burst on to the scene as a bright, skillful attacking player, but one perhaps not ready for 90 minutes of being kicked by defenders. The player we saw in this preseason was physically stronger, tactically sound, and defensively aware. His sophomore season presents him with a genuine opportunity to impress the league early on.
David Viana has looked more suited for this team as time went on. I had some doubts as preseason started — he is, after all, a left-winger, and that's a position we don't much use in our system. He's been more recently deployed up top and in the attacking midfield spot with some success. He's good at drifting wide and better at cutting inside. He's the sort of player that could have a breakout season with the club — if he gets his positional sense down.
Joao Plata has looked incredibly sparky up front, starting off attacks, taking chances, and looking consistently good on and off the ball. Of some concern is his propensity for getting kicked, but so long as he continues to get up and doesn't take to injury, I suppose that's a non-issue. For a newcomer, he's reacted very well to our system and deserves a fair deal of credit for that.
Robbie Findley has come back looking strong, too — while he's struggled a bit for fitness in these early weeks, his work on the ball is better than perhaps we remember. He's still not going to beat players on the dribble like some, but improvements there will help his overall game. More and more, he looks a real, genuine upgrade to the Robbie Findley who left at the end of 2010.
Really, our entire attacking areas are substantially improved: Even without Fabian Espindola, our strikers are, on the whole, improved, and our attacking midfield benefits from another year together.