With the confirmed arrival of Phanuel Kavita coming down on Saturday, and with Aaron Maund confirmed today to have signed a new contract at the club, Real Salt Lake's center back situation just got a lot more clear.
A center back set of Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler, Phanuel Kavita, and Aaron Maund doesn't sound so bad. Throw Justen Glad as a backup there (I rate him more as a full back until he bulks up a little, to be clear) and we're sitting pretty.
That doesn't stop pundits from pitching Real Salt Lake's needs as being solely central defenders (or at least in part) — but five is probably more than enough. It's a group laden with a little bit of risk, and people will point to injury-prone defenders like Chris Schuler and Jamison Olave as reason we should draft in that position. But Olave's played 28 and 29 games in the last two years, which puts him just behind the not-injury-prone Nat Borchers. And Schuler, despite heavy history of injury, played in 25 matches last season and would have played 28 if not for Borchers' beard.
Throw in Kavita, who played every match over four years for Clemson, and Maund, who hasn't seemed to have a spell of injuries at the club yet, and those injury concerns probably start to ease.
So we might instead wonder if Kavita and Maund would be good enough for the club moving forward. Kavita's played in reserve games over the last four-plus years, so there's probably not too much risk there. Andy Williams has, as a result, been involved in training sessions with him, even if he's not played with him, and Jeff Cassar has coached him (directly, given he coached the reserves.) He's a player the staff should have a very good sense of.;
Aaron Maund provides a little bit of a mixed bag: He's been divisive for RSL during his first-team minutes, and we might wonder if he's cut out for this level. A strong performance against LA Galaxy to start the season and a good half against Colorado late on would indicate he is, but his role in a 4-0 loss to Seattle Sounders and a sending-off against Colorado in August speak less positively. But he is continuing, and he'll have every opportunity to grow as a player here.
Justen Glad is the biggest question mark, in part because we don't know his best position and in part because we don't know how regularly he'll be involved with the first team following the arrival of Real Monarchs. Every performance I've seen of his has shown him to be particularly impressive, but he's not the biggest guy out there. He's plenty tall, but at last viewing, he was a bit slight.
Three question marks, though, doesn't give us reason to draft a central defender. That'd only put us in a position where we'd have four question marks instead of three. Maybe we'd draft a defender we'd like to develop — a Chris Schuler figure, perhaps — but the odds don't point to us drafting one on Thursday.