Not to be over-the-top, but Real Salt Lake's midfield could be due for a reshaping in 2015 following the departure of NYCFC-bound Ned Grabavoy.
Grabavoy, who started 30 matches and played in a further three, earning 2,711 minutes along the way. He played 2,688 minutes in 2013. His possession-oriented play has been, without exaggeration, vital to our midfield play. Kyle Beckerman is the fulcrum and Javier Morales is the pivot, but the central midfielders between the two are undoubtedly important.
Real Salt Lake has been nothing in this diamond formation when the midfield struggles. The consistency it demands, and the defensive understanding it requires from both moderately-wide midfielders shouldn't be underestimated — see the second leg against LA Galaxy to end our playoff run to see a crystal-clear example of what happens when it is.
Luis Gil, for all his excellent qualities, isn't a natural fit in those outside spots. He's certainly improved there over time, but most have constantly pegged him as an attacking midfield option — the Javier Morales spot more than the Ned Grabavoy one, to be sure. And even if we're to look at our midfield and see it as more attacking generally, Gil still isn't a natural fit there.
We can't just reshape our midfield to get one player more involved, but we're at a point now when one player seems a more natural fit that picked up significant minutes last year — Luke Mulholland. Cole Grossman and John Stertzer are good options there, and Stertzer is probably the most natural there, but he's yet to play even 500 minutes in a season (now, that's because of injury, but it does speak to the risk associated there.)
Would we better off taking a new approach in the midfield? Should Jeff Cassar and company be looking at taking an approach that seems a better fit for Gil and our other midfielders? Could we look at a three-man midfield with Kyle Beckerman at the base and two more narrow midfielders, with wide forwards entering the fray? Will we instead retain our approach and invest in another midfielder that could be a natural fit? Are there any answers we'll have before the season starts?
That one's probably a 'no', but the rest, we can wonder about.
There are plenty of questions but few answers. 2015 will be a fascinating year for a number of reasons, and our midfield is one of them.