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RSL 101: Real Salt Lake's key players and their roles

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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The mantra at Real Salt Lake has long been "the team is the star," but there are always going to be some players that stand out above the fray.

They're rarely brought in as stars, even if they're projected to be more important players in the system, or that they could become important players in the future.

If we're to be more accurate, we might not call these players 'stars' at all, but rather members of the core group. But they'd likely be important players on other teams, too, and that's part of what makes a star — a genuine thought that they could be good players wherever they happened to play.

So here we are: Some of the top players at Real Salt Lake that you need to know.

Kyle Beckerman

Defensive midfielder

One of the league's best midfielders and a consistent member of the United States Men's National Team, particularly notable for his high-quality performances during the 2014 World Cup.

Best attributes: Excellent positioning and passing from deep in the midfield, rarely gets caught out of position
Worst attributes: Not the fastest, gets the occasional yellow card for dissent

Tony Beltran

Right back

Probably Real Salt Lake's first truly successful draft pick, Beltran is a consistent defensive player with good attacking skills. He's at the club for his eighth season, and he's been an important player since 2009, arguably.

Best attributes: Superb one-on-one marking, good recovery speed, combines very well in attack
Worst attributes: Crossing leaves something to be desired, reluctant to shoot

Javier Morales

Attacking midfielder

An Argentine playmaker before it was cool to be an Argentine playmaker in MLS, Morales has been one of the most exciting players in the league since his second year at Real Salt Lake. After suffering a broken leg in 2011, he's recovered and is back in full force.

Best attributes: Amazing passing range and vision, free kicks from heaven
Worst attributes: Not the fastest out there, isn't getting any younger

Joao Plata

Forward

Once among the plethora of Toronto players who didn't make it at the club, Plata came to Real Salt Lake and has been a revelation. His goalscoring endeavors have been notable enough to win him a nice, big five-year contract.

Best attributes: Excellent dribbling skills, very impressive shots-to-goals ratio that defies expectations, is good dancer
Worst attributes: Is currently injured

Nick Rimando

Goalkeeper

He's popularly known as the best goalkeeper in MLS' history to never have won a Goalkeeper of the Year award, and every year, we think, "Oh! This has to be the year!" and it's not. He's short, but his shot-stopping is fantastic, his set-piece handling is superb, and he's extremely communicative.

Best attributes: Shot-stopping, set-pieces, stopping penalty kicks
Worst attributes: Plays into some nervous positions (despite handling them very well), can get beat by long shots, doesn't score goals (like, ever)

Alvaro Saborio

Forward

The Costa Rican target man is a strong forward whose play helped define Real Salt Lake. We'll see how that continues over this year with a new formation, but he's still the leading goalscorer all-time and a lethal force.

Best attributes: Excellent finishing, hold-up play, has shown good commitment on defending set pieces
Worst attributes: Has a real temper and will pick up silly cards, not great on the road

Chris Schuler

Center back

A 2010 draft pick, Schuler has been the model of incremental improvement. Despite having his seasons sometimes railroaded by injuries, he's been better every year.

Best attribute: Very communicative, clean with his passing,
Worst attribute: Looks awkward playing the ball sometimes (which convinces some people he's terrible, which is another story altogether), has been injury-prone in the past