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Desperately seeking left backs: What RSL might be looking for in a defender

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

With Chris Wingert having been selected by New York City FC, Real Salt Lake's starting left back spot is up for grabs.

Jeff Cassar confirmed last week that the club is at least in advanced discussions with someone that could do just that, but what will he be looking for in making a decision? Is there anything that could separate Abdoulie Mansally, already at the club, from potential candidates?

Decision-making

It seems like one of those exceedingly obvious qualities to look for, and maybe it really is. But when we look at where our left backs struggled in 2014, this is one area that stands out. Too often, a pass would be delayed too long and a chance would disappear or a counterattack would emerge from a cheap giveaway. We'll need somebody who can quickly and effectively keep play moving.

Combination play

It's probably the one thing I focus on more than anything when talking about full backs, and it's something we can see plenty of on the right side of the field. The left side's been a little different in that regard with Chris Wingert, but it's still been one of the hallmarks of his play. We'll need somebody who can continue that. Abdoulie Mansally brings this to the team, but whoever we bring in will need to be an efficient short-passer as well.

Crossing

This is one thing that we like to look at full backs to provide, and there's certainly something to that. While I tend to lean toward forwards and attacking midfielders to provide that in the modern game, it's something a good full back can bring to any side. Mansally, with his experience playing further forward, does bring this to the game.

Ability centrally

We've seen more central play from our full backs in the last year, and I think a narrow full back is something we've seen a little more of internationally, as well — you need look no further than Jurgen Klinsmann's penchant for inverted full backs during the World Cup for one example. It's not necessarily about inversion for us, but about providing a more solid spine when our midfielders push forward.