Real Salt Lake's 2-0 win over Sacramento Republic featured a number of players who don't see many first-team minutes — Sebastian Velasquez, Rich Balchan, Devon Sandoval — but there are a few players we would have liked to have seen.
Here are three players we'd like to have seen in this match — two (Allen, Stertzer) unavailable through long-term injuries and one (Saucedo) who hasn't yet started his professional career.
Saucedo's contract pushing him into a professional position from the academy doesn't kick in until January 2015, and academy players aren't eligible for ticketed exhibition matches, apparently. It was the same thing we saw with the match against Club Tijuana — and both times, it's made the match a little difficult to manage.
Of all the academy players we have available to us — Jose Hernandez, Brooks Lennon, and the likes — Saucedo is one of the most promising attackers, and he's the only one that (we know, at least) has signed a contract for next year. He'd have fit perfectly in the 4-3-3 we played, and he's capable on both the right and the left — as well as up top and in the attacking midfield spot.
How would he have attacked the seams between the full backs and the center backs? That's an area where he finds success often, no matter the position he plays. How would that have affected the width of RSL's play, and would that produce an increase in verticality?
Allen was felled for the season early on, but he remains one of the more promising players in RSL's system. He's been pegged as a national youth team player, and he's succeeded as a forward and as a defender, both generally on the right side — a rare feat.
He, like Saucedo, could be a perfect player for the 4-3-3 as a right winger, which is more or less where he played during his few early season minutes in 2014. How might he have attacked the right side, and could we have seen him instead as a full back? Sebastian Jaime played on the right — how might he have been able to cut inside a bit more frequently with a winger behind him? Rich Balchan cut inside — as our full backs have been wont to do in the last few months — but would overlapping runs have changed the dynamic of play?
Let's take a moment to remember that John Stertzer suffered a leg break during the last exhibition — that rainy day (hey, sounds familiar) against Club Tijuana. And let's take a moment to wonder how he might have been progressing this season. He started to look really quite good before the leg break, after all.
Could he have become a player we see off the bench regularly? He had been exciting, getting into the attack and distributing well. He'd fit into the side of the diamond without too much trouble, and he'd fit really well into a two-man holding/pivot midfield with Cole Grossman.