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RSL not looking to replace Johnson, Lagerwey says

Although RSL's midfield took a hit when Will Johnson was traded to Portland, General Manager Garth Lagerwey isn't looking to replace him, but to promote from within.


With Real Salt Lake's needs aimed toward acquiring two or three capable strikers, RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey is confident in RSL's midfield capabilities - even without departed midfielder Will Johnson.

Lagerwey's confidence, in part, hinges on Javier Morales continuing with Real Salt Lake. Still, there's no guarantee yet that Javier Morales will return to the club - he is mulling over a contract offer on the table, although his agent has made Lagerwey aware of offers in Mexico for Morales's signature.

At Winterfest at Rio Tinto Stadium, Lagerwey told fans that he was confident in the ability of the young midfield contingent to step into Will Johnson's place in the side.

"If you were to come back and have Javier (Morales), Kyle (Beckerman) and Ned (Grabavoy) - three lock-down veterans - and you have Luis Gil, who we think the sky is the limit for, that's as good a starting midfield, in my opinion, as you're going to find," Lagerwey said. "If you add in not just Sebastian Velasquez, but David Viana, Enzo Martinez - he's a player we remain high on - we think Yordany Alvarez, with another year in the system, could play in the side of the diamond and not just in that holding role."

Lagerwey is also confident that Real Salt Lake has picked up a quality midfielder in Cole Grossman - a player for whom he said RSL received an offer for from another MLS club after his arrival in the Waiver Draft.

Additionally, Lagerwey described the reaction of one other MLS club, whose waiver draft pick order followed Real Salt Lake's: "(I)n the background of the call, we hear - I'm not going to repeat the word - a colorful profanity coming from (another team's) line," he said. "Clearly, they were a team that felt Cole Grossman could have benefited their team."

With a young contingent of midfielders on hand, Lagerwey said concern about inconsistency of young players is somewhat abated.

"Here's the thing about young players: You don't ever want to be in a world where you're relying on a young player to deliver," he said. "The hardest thing about being a pro is being consistent. When you've got five - Viana, Velasquez, Martinez, Yordany, Cole Grossman - if two of those guys succeed, we're pretty darn good. That's not even counting Luis Gil. We feel pretty good about our midfield, to be quite frank."

If Javier Morales does indeed leave, it's hard to imagine they don't have at least a player on their radar. Even still, Lagerwey isn't set on not signing a midfielder: "Our top priority is our forwards right now, but if we have enough resources left after signing forwards, could we add a midfielder? Absolutely."