We've been talking a lot about Real Monarchs in the last week — and with their outstanding win record recently, it's hard not to.
But the development of individual players — something we talked about yesterday — makes us wonder who could make the jump to MLS next year. This isn't to say that they will, or that others couldn't do it, but these five players have something unique they could bring to Real Salt Lake in 2016.
5. Max Rauhofer
If Rauhofer can get his head down and work without some of the more problematic moments he's had this year — the fight that got him suspended for a good stretch still stands out — he could take his fine goalscoring abilities up a level. We've seen him score some brilliant, spectacular goals. Could we see that at a new level next year?
4. Lucas Baldin
RSL could make use of a smart midfielder like Baldin next year: He's a good passer and reads play well. He hasn't yet mastered the 90-minute performance — one of the mysteries of the season — but in every appearance, he has an impact on play. He's sort of like a young Ned Grabavoy, really, and that could be the thing that elevates him.
3. Alec Sundly
A second-year professional, Sundly has already had an MLS contract. While at the beginning of the season, he struggled through injuries, he's come around and showed particularly well. He just grabbed his first goal of the season, too — illustrating his attacking intentions.
2. Ricardo Velazco
An RSL academy graduate, Velazco is still a little raw — he hasn't quite mastered USL like he did the levels he played at before. But he's been a differentiator for most of the season, and he could take that to the next level if given the chance. He's capable in wide positions and in the attacking midfield spot, and that could leave him with an opportunity to impress and take his game to the first team.
1. Emery Welshman
Our most eligible candidate to make the step up next year, Welshman is remarkably fast, a good finisher, and a hard worker. He's had some adjusting to do, but he's done it well. He could feature centrally or in wide attacking roles, and that flexibility gives him a better chance to make the step up to MLS.
His only downside? He could take an international spot.