Real Salt Lake’s first more-or-less official match of the preseason is coming up fast. On Tuesday, the club takes on New York Red Bulls in Tucson, Ariz., so to get the pulse of our opponents, we’ve exchanged questions with Steve Toto of sister-blog Once a Metro.
1) What's the biggest storyline coming out of New York this offseason?
I would have to say the story that rocked RBNY the most was the transfer of Dax McCarty to Chicago. The Ginger Ninja was part of the team for 5.5 years and was a strong enough leader to become the team's captain the last few years. Yes, 2016 was a down season compared to his previous 2 or 3, but he was still the core of the team's offense and defense. It's not that common when a captain gets traded. I don't think many people will realize the impact until they see a RBNY game played without Dax in the lineup. Most of the fanbase feel very sorry for him. He himself stated he was "blindsided." How would you feel that in a 3-day window, you got married, flew down to USMNT camp and got traded? He will be missed. Another minor storyline is that no one has heard from Sporting Director Ali Curtis in a while. Lots of speculation he isn't with the team anymore. So much for that 300-page plan.
2) Robbie Findley! That's a name we know well around here. Do you think there's a chance he makes the team? What's that forward group looking like?
When I saw Findley's name on there, I was surprised as well. It seems as if he fell off the map kind of quickly. He enjoyed his time with RSL, but then played as a backup in Toronto in 2015 and with NASL-side Rayo OKC in 2016. He looked a bit rusty in the first preseason game against Portland. Let's see if he performs better against his former club. I don't think he'll make the squad, but I've been wrong before. The current striker corp is Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips, Gonzalo Veron, potentially Anatole Abang, granted he returns mid-season from his loan spell and USL stud Brandon Allen. The Red Bulls do need some more depth there in case they want to run a 4-4-2 instead of the 4-2-3-1 from last season.
3) So — Mike Petke is Real Monarchs coach. What do you think he brings to a USL side? Is he the type of person to take it as a stepping stone back to an MLS job?
I'm extremely stoked for Petke and so should the Salt Lake community. In his two seasons at the helm of RBNY, he brought them their first-ever Supporters' Shield, then followed it up with an Eastern Conference finals appearance. Jesse Marsch has done the same exact thing in his two years in charge, so the Monarchs are getting a great coach. It might take him a few games to get totally back in the swing, but he was a steal for the team. He's probably still a better coach then half of the current MLS managers. He is a loyal guy, but wouldn't surprise me that he would jump ship to get back in MLS if his time with the Monarchs is a success. At the moment, I'm confident saying you have landed a good one.