Yesterday, Real Salt Lake announced that it had taken options on a handful of players, and while that doesn't mean they'll be here in 2016, it is the first step that would keep them in Salt Lake City.
You've probably seen that list, but there's plenty to talk about still. Should RSL actually keep these players? Well, let's talk about it.
Lalo Fernandez: Every team needs a quality third-string goalkeeper who's coming up the ranks, and Lalo is ours. Last year, he got meaningful minutes for the first time in his RSL career, and even though they were for Real Monarchs, they showed us why he should stick around. He's a good shot-stopper, strong in the air, and grew into an organizational position very well.
Some questions, of course, still exist: How long will Lalo want to stick around as a third-string player? Does he have a chance of supplanting Attinella as the backup? Is he biding his time until the ageless Nick Rimando retires?
Abdoulie Mansally: The key here? We have an affordable left back, who, while not a world-beater, has grown well into the position. Will he still make mistakes? Probably, but you take the good with the bad sometimes. If he's content to remain a backup in 2016, I don't have any worries here.
Boyd Okwuonu: While he played more for the U.S. U-23s than he did with Real Salt Lake (I'm pretty sure, at least), Okwuonu is a strong option to step up in the next year. While he's behind Tony Beltran at right back, the fact that either of them can play on the left means Okwuonu might be earning minutes more readily.
Luke Mulholland: He's not the most solid midfielder in the world (or on the team), but Mulholland is a reasonable MLS player. However, with our mid-season tactical shuffling, he got pushed as a defensive midfield or box-to-box player, but it doesn't seem like he had a full preseason with Kyle Beckerman to really get a solid grasp on that role. Solve that problem, and Mulholland's value shoots up tremendously.
John Stertzer: We've never really had a full season to watch Stertzer play until last year, given his many, many injuries, none of which indicate he's an injury-prone player so much as a terribly unlucky one. But if he can continue avoiding that bad luck, it could be hard to keep Stertzer off the pitch.
Olmes Garcia: While he's not the incredible striker people wanted when he first signed, Garcia has taken a slow burn to his development — if he can push that up a notch and really get going, maybe score a few more goals, then he has every chance to be an important player for the team.
Devon Sandoval: He might not be the perfect player in this system, but he's a surprisingly good option. If he nails the confidence piece and starts banging in a few more goals, he's an excellent option off the bench. Is he ready to be a starter? Probably not, but that shouldn't preclude RSL's keeping an affordable, reasonably effective player.