As we wandered through the 2015 season, it became really tempting to simply give up excitement as a concept that applied to Real Salt Lake.
Now, that's hardly the most fun thing about being a soccer fan, but it's a tempting thing after a poor, poor season in which we missed the playoffs. But it's also unnecessary — 2016 has shown us a few reasons to be excited already, and it's worth keeping those in mind as we enter preseason in short order.
1. Yura Movsisyan returns
I mean, you expected this to be the first item, right? Yura Movsisyan is returning to Real Salt Lake and that is very much in our collective excitement's favor. He's already said he's aiming for at least 15 goals (and said that scoring 5-10 goals wouldn't be worth coming back), and that's something we really lacked last year.
Movsisyan is one of the more exciting players the club could bring in. He left as a mid-level MLS striker and he comes back as a potential (and likely) MLS standout. He left a growing club that had just won its first title, and he comes back to that same club that he wants to return to its former glory.
2. New faces
Outside of Yura Movsisyan's signing, the club is currently working to bring in two new players — and the understanding I have is that they're not going to be low-level backups.
If that's true, that means that when we return, we'll be seeing three exciting new players to the system, and hopefully that's the sort of thing that can kick a team into a higher gear.
And for consideration, those players are a midfielder and a center back, and those are areas where RSL needed some boosting. (Of course, they needed boosting everywhere except at that goalkeeper spot, but still.)
One thing Real Salt Lake general manager Craig Waibel has talked about this offseason is a need for the club to return to establishing its identity in preseason — to not chase it as the season goes on. That sort of thing will make a world of difference, one could naturally assume.
If last year was rudderless, this year's promise is that it won't be — now, we can have varying opinions about the probability of that happening, but it's clearly the goal, and it's an important one to have.
Just what that identity would and should be will play out over the coming weeks and months, but let's just say that it gives us some cause for hope and reason for excitement.