Real Salt Lake added a player this off season that very well could be the X factor for this team. Brief back story just in case some how you missed this, Stephan "Sunny" Obayan bounced around Europe for most of his career so far, had some issues with injuries here and there. This winter RSL GM Craig Waibel picked him up to play along with Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales.
Reasons for being the X Factor:
Sunny can take pressure off the back line by winning the ball up the field. In the match against Tigres in the later part of the first half Tigres was running up the wing in a one on one foot race with Sunny in chase. He got cut off and was able to step around to do a slide from behind to poke the ball away to the back line. No foul just a clean, tactical move. This is a key for RSL this year seeing how the defense was last year. Sunny will be able to cut off the attacks from the opposing team in transition, which will take pressure off the center backs. Sunny is a box to box player, he was moving all over the field against Tigres. He is great on the ball, for example when RSL does win the ball back in a good position up the field they can begin to move forward with his passing and dribbling abilities. His ball control would make him a great outlet for the center backs when under pressure. Lastly having a clean, tactical, and clinical holding midfielder with speed like Sunny is going to prove to be a X factor part for RSL this coming season. RSL fans should be very excited to watch him play!
Here is where the fun starts! Sunny’s ability to win the ball back in transition cleanly will allow RSL to launch counter attacks from high up the field. With that 4 headed monster that RSL has up top this will allow them to put pressure on the opposing team quicker and lead to goals. Real Salt Lake is a team that likes to also have possession of the ball and move it around. This fits Sunny’s style as he is very good and technical with the ball at his feet. With his box to box work rate he will be able to move up the field to grab any loose balls coming out of the box to put a shot on goal or push wide for more service in the box. With the two instances mentioned before this will put a lot of pressure on the opposing team to make them break. The great teams cut off all exits to their opposing team to keep them backed up in their own end in high pressure situations. In the limited matches we have seen thus far this year his ability to mesh with Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales so quickly are truly showing. This shows the class not only of him but the rest of the guys on team. Being able to communicate and work together to achieve the same goal is a huge part of the team’s success. This has been shown in the first two matches with him and Kyle Beckerman communicating.
RSL fans be ready to be impressed and watch some good high lights of the X factor!