Real Salt Lake, having suffered from the injury and red card bug early this year, will be using a new MLS rule that allows them to call in players from their USL team during cases of "extreme hardship."
Jeff Cassar told ESPN 700's Bill Riley that the club would be making a defensive call-up, but he didn't say who. He also told the Salt Lake Tribune's Chris Kamrani that the club would be making two extreme hardship call-ups. RSL Communications corroborated the claim, which shouldn't come as any great surprise, given the accuracy expected of the sources.
Regardless, we're without names as of now, and that means we're going to set out to on a bit of an adventure.
First, let's look at the rule, as recorded in MLS's "Roster Rules & Regulations," which we should expect to be the canonical source for rules. We know it's not always the case — especially as this is a new rule, but LA Galaxy brought in players from their USL team, LA Galaxy II, last year. Regardless, this is what we have to base our discussion on. (Emphasis below is mine.)
Clubs may add players to their roster in cases of “Extreme Hardship.” Extreme Hardship exists when an MLS club has fewer than 15 total players available or when an MLS club with three goalkeepers on its roster, has fewer than two goalkeepers available.
USL Player Short Term Agreements in cases of Extreme Hardship
Clubs may sign players, 25-years-old or younger, from their USL affiliate (on loan) to a Short Term Agreement (up to four-day contracts) for MLS league season games only in cases of Extreme Hardship.
Now, let's go over the projected absences, but we also should know that there are other potential absences, too. The following nine players are definitely out.
- Jamison Olave (red card suspension)
- Kyle Beckerman (red card suspension)
- Burrito Martinez (disciplinary committee action)
- Javier Morales (broken rib)
- Boyd Okwuonu (concussion)
- Phanuel Kavita (MCL)
- Omar Holness (seizure, shoulder)
- Emery Welshman (hip flexor)
- Fito Ovalle (personal reasons)
With 26 players on the roster, that leaves RSL with 17 available. Not too bad, right? (Just kidding — it's bad.) But we know that RSL has actually called players up from Real Monarchs — which means there's something going on we don't know about. There are several options.
First, it may be the case that goalkeepers aren't counted in this measure. We don't have any evidence that's the case, but since a comment on this site proposed it, it's worth a mention.
Second, we have players missing who aren't on this list. We could speculate on who that is, but there's not really much use in that — so we'll do it anyway. (Consistency, you know?)
- Chris Wingert, who has a broken nose and is wearing a mask
- Demar Phillips, who played only 45 minutes for Jamaica in a 3-0 loss to Costa Rica on Wednesday
- Danilo Acosta, who we expect returned from international duty recently
- Yura Movsisyan, who suffered an adductor strain against Portland but has been in full training
That's basically where we're at — we're dealing with half-information, and it will make Saturday particularly interesting.
The second part of our question is about who the team could call up, and that's a little easier to answer.
First, we know that Cassar said they're calling up a defender, and there's a pretty limited list of defenders to look at here. Let's also note that Cassar said he was an "experienced" defender.
- It's not Chris Schuler, as he's too old to fit the rule, and it would be fairly risky with the center back. He's reportedly 65 to 70 minutes fit, which certainly isn't enough to warrant a call-up anyway.
- Lennon Celestino is listed as a defender, but he's typically played a defensive midfielder role. He's definitely experienced, and he's only 24.
- Emilio Orozco is another option, and he's not quite as experienced as Celestino — but he's also played quite a few matches at various levels, having come through Tigres' youth side and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
Additionally, it seems one more player's been called up, and while we don't know who exactly that is, we can take a reasonable guess.
- Andrew Brody has trained with the first team, and he's the most reasonable, immediate guess. He'd provide depth out wide, and he impressed against Saint Louis FC last weekend.
- Amass Amankona could provide depth in the midfield, and he looked good with the team during the preseason.
- Alec Sundly, too, could be an option, like Amankona. He's a solid two-way midfielder.