Real Salt Lake’s roster might not really be in need of an overhaul, but it certainly needs some improvement.
That’s something the club’s general manager, Craig Waibel, has talked about in recent weeks. It’s the sort of thing that we’re inevitably going to speculate about, so let’s do it with some informed targets and with a clear view of the roster.
Looking at the roster broken down like this makes it pretty clear where some of our spots of need are — and sure, there can be some flexibility in positions, but this helps us to start to figure things out.
A center back
First up, a center back: I’ve shoved Danilo Acosta in the full back position, but really, he’s a defensive midfielder, center back or full back. He might see time at full back this year, particularly, but don’t necessarily rule out an emergency center back appearance.
Three center backs is no way to run a team, especially when one of your three is likely to see significant minutes with the U.S. U-20s this year — Justen Glad will likely miss significant minutes, and that leaves us needing at least a backup behind Chris Schuler and Aaron Maund.
That elusive number 10
Without Javier Morales, and without a genuine, tested attacking midfielder on the team, we’re in need of somebody that can really pull those strings. We certainly have options now, but none of them are particularly good — Luke Mulholland is the only player with experience that would play there, and he’s not exactly a string-puller. Both Sebastian Saucedo and Jose Hernandez played that position extremely well at the academy level, but as we know, youth and inexperience do not contribute well to that vital spot.
We will have to spend designated player money here.
A rotational winger
It’s getting time that we give Jordan Allen true minutes. Let’s sign a winger that we don’t feel the need to play in every match — sure, a world-class winger could change that a bit, but barring that, it’s important that we think about a player that can rotate with Allen and Plata. That will help the team most in the long term.
We can avoid signing a designated player here and still be — I think — in a strong position.
A backup striker
Yura Movsisyan might be the best striker Real Salt Lake has had — time will tell on that one, certainly — but even he won’t be able to do it alone. The best teams in MLS have backup strikers that can be effective in some way, and that’s something RSL has missed over the last year or more.
Sure, it’s a tough position to fill — Craig Waibel likes to talk about how in MLS, most teams can’t have two good strikers because they’ll simply get snatched up by another team that needs one good striker at all. It’s a little weird, but maybe there’s something to it.