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Three areas RSL could use improvement in the transfer market

MLS: D.C. United at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The transfer window has rather unceremoniously opened in American soccer, and you’d be forgiven if you didn’t entirely notice it happen.

There wasn’t a roar of incoming players so much as there was, well, nothing like that. Matches came and went, and players have more or less stayed the same. That’s the story in Salt Lake City, too, with no news about incoming players leaking out.

The best we have is Salt Lake Tribune reporter Chris Kamrani giving the same line on Chris Schuler that we saw at the beginning of the season: RSL would look at him for a first-team spot if and only if he could demonstrate an ability to stay fit.

"What we need to see again is more consistency, not just in his play, in his health," Cassar said. "We'll see."

And that’s the best we have at this point. But at the same time, we’ve also seen an undercurrent of comments from Craig Waibel about potential trades and player movement, often in the context of other MLS teams.

Does that mean a move is imminent? Maybe, but maybe not. With the injury of Sunny and the six-to-eight week timeframe for his return, any plans we may have had involving a midfielder are almost certainly out of the short-term picture unless it means picking up other midfielders in return.

But with all that in mind, it’s more important than ever now to take a look at our roster and see the real areas of need. We might, at various times, talk about needing a truly clinical forward, or a midfield destroyer that can truly back up Kyle Beckerman. But our areas of need are more prominent than that.

One source for our consternation about this? There’s some evidence that Jeff Cassar may not be confident with his bench options. RSL’s complete reluctance to substitute players in recent matches emphasizes it.

Let’s talk about our needs.

Top priority: A great center back

We talked about this recently, but one of the downfalls of having young center backs is that they will make mistakes, and there’s not any real way around that. The tutelage of a great center back is important in this regard. They can help erase mistakes as they happen, and they can help young players learn from those mistakes more effectively.

Let’s be clear about this, though: This should not be an indictment of Justen Glad. It should be an indictment on the entirety of the roster, whose proclivity to concede late goals truly needs correction. A center back signing could help there.

Secondary priority: An attacking midfielder

To this point in the season, we have yet to see a true replacement for Javier Morales emerge. This is not the first time that’s been the case. With his aging legs, Morales’ time in MLS will slowly ease to a close, and having a very capable backup could help with the transition.

But there are also times where Morales could use a rest, or where — maybe — we could use a player who can win a starting spot. The internal competition Morales hoists on himself is fine, and certainly it’s part of what has made him a special player. But external competition is a factor we can’t ignore.

Those two factors combine for a compelling argument.

Tertiary priority: A hybrid midfielder

This sounds more specific than it is, but what it really means is that we need a midfielder that can fill multiple roles. Luke Mulholland is the closest we have there, but he’s shown he’s best as a box-to-box player alongside a standout defensive midfielder like Kyle Beckerman.

Imagine, if we had a player pushing for minutes at three different positions — it has the effect of not displacing one single player excessively while strengthening the squad significantly. That’s the sort of player that could make a world of difference — but it’s also probably our least pressing of these three needs.

Areas where we don’t have as much need

Left back: I know, you keep arguing we need a left back. But for me, Demar Phillips is a good first option (if not great) and Chris Wingert is a best-of-MLS second-choice.

Goalkeeper: This is obvious.

Right back: Tony Beltran is excellent. Boyd Okwuonu could be a great backup — but we need to see him play a bit more to make that judgment.

First-choice forward/winger: Yura Movsisyan can be clinical, while Burrito Martinez and Joao Plata are among the best at what they do in the league.