‘Tis the season of New Year resolutions. Whether it is a packed gym or giving Mondays their second chance, many people are flaunting the "New Year, New Me" mantra. Just as the Real Salt Lake staff are people, they too must be making resolutions and here are a few that the Claret-and-Cobalt could benefit from.
1. Drafting a Generation Adidas (GA) prospect
The Generations Adidas program is a joint venture between Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation aimed at increasing the talent of young soccer talent. Program participants include Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, and RSL’s own Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman – then named Project-40.
With names like that it is hard to argue against signing a player with that potential, but it doesn’t always pan out in that manner. It has been some time since RSL has had a GA player on the roster, in fact, Luis Gil was the last who also grew out of this designation some time ago. With the recent sting of Gil’s departure still being felt by the club I will not go into much detail other than saying Gil did not maintain consistency while with the Claret-and-Cobalt.
The 2016 Generation Adidas class, however, has yet to be released with a number of players considering offers from the program extended mid-December. But reports have players like Joshua Yaro, Jack Harrison, Abu Danladi, Fabian Herbers, Richie Laryea, and Jake Rozhansky joining the GA fold.
Still, not only do players of this caliber show immense potential, but they are also absent a salary cap hit while still making well beyond the league minimum. With that only in mind, RSL should resolve to snap up any opportunity to sign one of these players with their number five MLS 2016 SuperDraft pick.
2. Continue adding young talent
On the same note, Real has consistently produced great youth prospects out of their academy. In fact, the Arizona based academy has influenced five players in the latest U.S. U-20 camp.
Just as the Claret-and-Cobalt have recently added Danilo Acosta to the roster, RSL’s youth have consistently shown that they are ready to make it at the professional level. The New York Red Bulls signed three more homegrown players to reach a league leading and historical seven homegrown players benchmark on their roster. With eight potential slots for young talent, it appears that RSL could easily surpass New York and go straight to a full 28-man roster.
So, as the inevitable roster turnover happens midseason, RSL should resolve not to just find talent from the far corners of the world, but also from within.
3. Shoring up the defense
So RSL’s defense remains an issue that has yet to be addressed this offseason. Ok, so Jamison Olave has been resigned but the Claret-and-Cobalt backline is rather filled with holes. For example, Olave was resigned with the club despite having arguably one of the worst seasons of his career and at 35 years old he is not getting any younger. Like in the past RSL cannot rely on Olave to play on turf which accounts for a fair amount of the potential Western Conference schedule and CONCACAF Champions League – so let’s write him off for all Cascadia trips now.
Chris Schuler’s position is yet another talking point as the veteran has yet to sign with any MLS club after years of sporadic injuries. So what are other options in the depth chart? Well, let’s just say they are rather slim pickin’s.
What RSL needs is a veteran presence at the back, much like, um, Nat Borchers . . . wait, didn’t Garth Lagerwey trade him to Portland before he left for Seattle? Bollocks. So what is RSL to do? RSL could go the way of the Reds in Canada hiring the talents of veteran Drew Moor from the free agent list but that seems unlikely. RSL could trade for an inter-league defender but who would really fit the billet?
Instead, beyond the salty shores of this land lay immense riches, at least in the soccer world. RSL reported back at the beginning of December that GM Waibel and head coach Cassar have gone scouting in South America and identified potential targets. With the storm that is the January transfer window on the horizon (editor's note: while inter-league transfers are available at this point, international transfers are not open until February 18), RSL should resolve to acquire a skilled, veteran defender – or two – from the international market.
4. Finding the sweet spot in the attack
Last season RSL was supposed to have playmakers in the offense but an early season injury to Joao Plata messed with Jeff Cassar’s new 4-3-3 plan from the onset of the 2015 campaign. With troubles finding the back of the net and getting points, RSL fell towards the bottom of the Western Conference and stayed there most of the season. The acquisition of Juan Miguel Martinez – El Burrito – alleviated some of this problem but it was not enough to save RSL from missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
In addition, the departure of club legend Alvaro Saborio came at quite a shock for many – in some cases with the prediction of a similar goal drought for RSL in 2016. However, with talent on both wings and a talented Argentine in the middle, it is all about just finding the chemistry, the spark, for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
RSL appear to be set in the attacking department going into the new season. With a little luck and a whole lot of team building, RSL can recapture their attacking prowess. Therefore, RSL should resolve to find a way to fit the puzzles pieces just right in the attacking third and get back to scoring some golazos.
For further information on the 4-3-3 formation watch the following video and tell us in the comments below what your think RSL's New Year Resolutions should be: