As we look at Real Salt Lake's 2015 options, things have finally started to become more clear. A rash of signings and announcements in the last week has made the whole game an easier one to understand.
Nick Rimando, Jeff Attinella, Lalo Fernandez
We're well-set at goalkeeper, but with Lalo Fernandez set to play week-in, week-out with Real Monarchs, there's a greater chance of injury for him. (Playing will do that to you, you know.) Perhaps we'll see one of the non-Lalo Monarchs goalkeepers move up occasionally when Rimando is on national team duty and Attinella needs a backup in the case that Lalo's unavailable.
Center back: Chris Schuler, Jamison Olave, Aaron Maund, Phanuel Kavita, Elias Vasquez
We've got a few center backs now, but just think back a little bit: When Nat Borchers left for
parts unknown Portland Timbers, we had exactly one center back on the roster.
Left back: Demar Phillips, Abdoulie Mansally
In December, we thought we might have no left back available. Instead, we have two. Not bad, Cassar and Waibel. Not bad. Demar Phillips could be really exciting, and Abdoulie Mansally has continued his development apace.
Right back: Tony Beltran, Boyd Okwuonu, Jordan Allen
Tony Beltran remains our tried-and-true full back on the roster, but Boyd Okwuonu could provide some solid depth — but there's little certainty there. Jordan Allen's on here because we're not really sure what his best position is — right back or right midfield — but he could appear here, so we've written him here. That's all.
Defensive backup wherever: Justen Glad
This kid can play anywhere across the back line. He's probably a little slender to be a starting center back (or definitely) but he's certainly smart enough and reads the game extremely well.
We don't yet know what the shape of the midfield in 2015, so we've separated players into two categories: more attacking and more defensive. This helps us at least get some separation and understand what our squad's looking like.
More defensive: Kyle Beckerman, Pecka, John Stertzer
We've got genuine backup for Kyle Beckerman once again in the form of Pecka, who Daryl Shore compared to our former favorite, Ned Grabavoy. (He has since gone down 8 to 10 notches in our book. Sigh.)
More attacking: Javier Morales, Luis Gil, Luke Mulholland, Sebastian Saucedo
This is a very strong attacking midfield, and Luis Gil should really be getting minutes now. He's not ahead of Javier Morales in the pecking order yet, but this could be the season it happens. If not, next season, because Javier Morales might be retiring at the end of this one.
As with the midfield, we don't know what our forward tactical structure will look like. If we go with a 4-3-3, we'll probably have to see more time for wide strikers; if we don't, we'll at least have them set aside here. Strangely, our strikers are our most known commodities, despite the uncertainty the tactical structure provides.
Central-playing: Alvaro Saborio, Devon Sandoval
Hold-up play is king here, and it's hard to see Saborio's talents being used too much differently than this. Sandoval should provide better backup than he did last year.
Wide-playing (but also central): Joao Plata, Sebastian Jaime, Olmes Garcia
These three players are all tricky, smart wide men who are more than happy to cut inside. That's a great quality to have at our ready.