Preseason is here and it’s an opportunity for players to step up and show their quality. These are the players I’m watching.
I’ll start with the obvious: Reagan Dunk and Justin Schmidt, our draft picks from the first two rounds of the SuperDraft. RSL has done well with draftees in the past. Of that list of top draftees, there’s a noticeable defensive tilt. RSL does a great job developing defenders so it’s not a massive shock that the two players we wanted from the draft happen to be defenders. Unsigned as yet, their impressions as they work with the squad will determine their fates. If they show spectacularly well, they’ll have great opportunities to develop under the auspices of our seasoned veterans. Most likely they’ll develop with Real Monarchs. Here’s looking at you, kids. Your fates are in your hands. Well. Feet.
Speaking of hands, there’s an open spot as RSL’s secondary keeper, so Lalo Fernández is the man I’m looking at here. With Rimando off at the USMNT January Training Camp, Fernández is going to have a huge opportunity to strut his funky stuff in goal during preseason. Facing certain competition from the 2016 NASL Goalkeeper of the Year Matt Van Oekel, Fernández has a daunting challenge ahead that could prove to be massively rewarding.
Jordan Allen is the next player that I’m watching. I’m hoping for a breakout year! I said that multiple years about Gil; maybe I should shut up before I jinx it. Allen has made tremendous strides over the past two seasons: three goals and two assists in 2016; one goal and two assists in 2015—he appeared twenty-three times and started eleven matches in each season. I’m looking to him as the future of RSL. With Burrito’s departure, there’s availability for a wide forward and it may just be his time to shine.
Like Allen, Sebastian Saucedo might just be able to solidify his place as a wide forward. Plus, he’s from Park City and who wouldn’t love to see major success from a local player? This is his chance to be the guy who paves the way for Utah’s talents. With the new academy in Herriman coming along, he has the opportunity to carry that torch. Hopefully his time with Veracruz gave him some great experience to bring to RSL. I’m excited he’s back.
Albert Rusnak: As our new fat DP signing, he needs to hit the ground running full sprint. He’s been tapped to fill some awfully big shoes. Hopefully his visa will clear soon and he can join the camp.
Yura Movsisyan: I love the guy and his enthusiasm. He is, without a doubt, a huge asset. But nine goals is not twenty goals.
Chris Schuler: Maund rocked it last year. Glad rocked it last year. This stiff competition is good for all.
What do you think? Even if I didn’t ask, I’m sure you’d tell me. Roll comments!