So, without further ado, here are some questions we received from some loyal (or at least we hope they're loyal) readers. Weston Jenson and I (Matt Montgomery) provide the answers. We've noted that here, because I don't want anybody blaming Weston for my lousy answers.
We'll kick things off with a question from Travis Triggs about Real Salt Lake's up-and-comers. We think there are a lot of them.
@rslsoapbox which RSL player will have a breakout year?— Travis Triggs (@MagmaRider) February 13, 2015
Weston: Travis, we are not often called to be fortune tellers, but for you we will perform a séance. John Stertzer and Sebastian Jaime are two players that come to mind. As Stertzer looks towards his first healthy season - knock on wood - he will likely be vital in a backup role in the midfield during a hectic 2015 campaign. Jaime, on the other hand, has had time to establish himself as part of this team. Many midseason transfers into this league struggle and perform during their first full season with their club, we should expect Jamie to do this. With Joao Plata injured at the start of the season, look to Jaime to be both creating chances and scoring goals.
Tucker Samuelsen wants to know more about expansion opportunities for Rio Tinto Stadium. I'm assuming that means there won't be seating atop the new scoreboard, sadly.
@rslsoapbox What conditions would be necessary for RSL to consider expanding capacity at Rio Tinto?— Tucker Samuelsen (@TuckerBucket) February 13, 2015
Matt: Past statements have focused on potential expansion being possible only if every game sells out without much in the way of walkup traffic, and if we can get our season ticket holder count basically maxing out the stadium. We're on our way in both of those, with the former certainly closer than the latter. Where exactly that expansion happens is hard to say — it could be the south end, with its seating more temporary than permanent now, or it could be an upper concourse around the north end. There's not too much room to expand in other areas — at least not that are immediately apparent to me.
Let's turn our attention toward Real Monarchs. Where's the squad coming from? Tucker wants to know.
@rslsoapbox Monarchs roster: What are we filling it with? U-18 Academy guys? Older/NCAA academy guys? Fringe vets? When will we find out?— Tucker Samuelsen (@TuckerBucket) February 13, 2015
Weston: According to a conversation with RSL technical director Craig Waibel, "[RSL] is looking everywhere to stock players" for the Monarchs. When specifically asked about the NASL and other USL clubs, Waibel did not rule them out. He also told reporters that players' agents are reaching out from across the globe expressing interest in joining the organization. So while it looks like the spine of the USL club will be RSL academy players, the organization is looking for specific roles to fill from a list of interested parties. So to answer your question Tucker, it looks like the possibilities are endless . . . Oh, and we will likely have a more concrete answer when the new CBA gets completed and the league rules finalized.
And squad movement — that's a hot question, too. Sadly, we don't have a great answer for Bryan.
@rslsoapbox moving players from rsl and monarchs... How will that work?— Bryan (@bryanbleano) February 13, 2015
Matt: I wish I could give you a good or straight answer, but the simple truth of the matter is that we don't know. Ideas have been floated, some more credible than others, but by and large, it's a great big black hole from which information is impossible to withdraw. But if I'm to guess — and I do love guessing — there will be some opportunities for short- and long-term loans for players from Real Salt Lake to Real Monarchs, the latter of which will probably have some salary cap ramifications.
While we're on the topic of Real Monarchs — and answering questions from Bryan — let's talk about some players that could see time for them — academy graduates and academy players living in sunny Arizona.
@rslsoapbox which academy players (current or graduated) has the potential to be league stars?— Bryan (@bryanbleano) February 13, 2015
Matt: There are a slew of names floating around in my head right now, and it's hard to look past Sebastian Saucedo, who's been, by all accounts, strong in RSL's preseason. He's a young, creative player with pace and technical ability to spare. Fito Ovalle, who has been in camp with Real Salt Lake, has played with Chilean youth sides, and he's looked very good every time he's played for RSL's now-defunct reserves side. Brooks Lennon, if he ever joins Real Salt Lake, would probably fit the bill, but he's looked more likely to head overseas than anyone.
And the kicker: Free agency. It's the thing everybody wants — except, well, MLS, and that's really the sticking point here.
@rslsoapbox if there's free agency, how might thay affect rsl players?— Bryan (@bryanbleano) February 13, 2015
Weston: Well, we really don't know Bryan. As it stands when a player is waived by a club the player goes onto the MLS waiver rosters where any team can pick them up because the league owns their contracts and not the individual club. Take for instance former RSL forward Robbie Findley, whose option was picked up by Toronto. If free agency was in place in the MLS, Findley could have sold his services to the highest bidder instead of being chosen by the Reds. As a result, if their option was declined, a mid-career player, such as Abdoulie Mansally, could choose who they played for instead of being somewhat obligated to play for a club that drafted them.
Want to submit your questions to RSL Soapbox? Tweet at us — it's @rslsoapbox. You probably guessed as much.