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State of the Roster: What’s left on RSL’s wishlist?

RSL’s signings aren’t done, and they’ve strengthened the middle of the roster. What’s next?

MLS: Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a busy week for Real Salt Lake, and with that, it’s time to take a look at our roster once again.

Last time around, we took a close look at each player positionally in an attempt to suss out where we were. But at that point, we didn’t know about moves for Taylor Peay, Aaron Herrera and Brooks Lennon — not officially, at least — so it’s worth revisiting part of this at least. We also didn’t know that Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando were both likely to return. Needless to say, the roster has started to come together, and we can start to look at depth.

With that depth, we can also turn our attention toward figuring out next steps for Real Salt Lake — who should we be looking to target? That’s the question on everyone’s mind.


Depth Chart: Nick Rimando, Connor Sparrow

Given our knowledge of Rimando’s likelihood to return, we’re not in a position of panic here. In fact, we’re in largely the same position we were a year ago, when we didn’t have Matt VanOekel on the roster. We just need a backup.


Center back depth chart: Marcelo Silva, Justen Glad, David Horst, Taylor Peay

I actually think one more center back here would do us a world of good. The number of times we were forced to play our third and fourth center backs was not insignificant, and we need to be prepared for situations where that happens. This should not be construed as a knock on Peay, but really a recognition that we need somebody behind them — because if we’re in that unfortunate position, it’s a tough thing. This is largely the role Chris Wingert served as center back, to my mind.

What do we need? I’d say we only need a reserve player who could potentially step up, but not somebody who we need to play immediately or who we’d feel like we’re wasting by putting in a reservist role. Maybe Justin Schmidt’s a good option there.

Right back depth chart: Tony Beltran, Aaron Herrera, Taylor Peay, Jordan Allen

This is an area where we need some significant help. Until September, we’d be left with Herrera and Peay, which isn’t a safe position to be in. Herrera has no professional experience, while Peay isn’t a tried-and-true full back. He’s here for spot duty. Jordan Allen is here because he could play the role, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered first.

I really want Herrera to be given a good opportunity here, but opportunity so rarely looks like being handed a position. Instead, it’s an opportunity to earn a spot that becomes important, and without true competition, it’s going to be a tough sell.

And no, I’m not putting Brooks Lennon here.

I really think we need a starting right back in our preseason, and if Herrera can rise to the challenge and displace him, we’ll be better for it. Maybe we can bring in somebody on a short-term loan, or sign a defensive midfielder that can also play right back.

Left back depth chart: Danilo Acosta, Demar Phillips, Taylor Peay

Alright! This looks good. Acosta’s proven himself a starting player — this, through competition — and I’d put him ahead of Phillips any day. It wasn’t always the case, and it’s illustrative that he fought his way into a starting spot multiple times.

I don’t think we need too much help here. We have a starter, a good backup, and a reserve player.


Defensive midfield depth chart: Kyle Beckerman, Sunny, Luke Mulholland, Nick Besler

This is a pretty solid set for potentially two positions on the field. It’s the sort of group that could get us through 2018 without making too many waves. But you know what? It’s not ideal. We know Beckerman isn’t going to be around forever, and we need to start grooming a replacement sooner rather than later. We don’t yet know who that will be, of course, but remember — Danilo Acosta was a defensive midfielder before he was a left back. He might be the sort of player that can evolve into the position.

All told, I’d stick with this group now for our defensive midfield depth unless we find the right player — and that would mean somebody multi-faceted that can play in several different midfield roles.

Support midfield depth chart: Luke Mulholland, Sunny, Luis Silva

This isn’t a bad group, but without a top player in a support role, it makes things difficult for Mike Petke. He needs to be able to deploy somebody that can own the support role, and right now, Mulholland is the only player that’s relatively close. Sunny fits in a pinch, and Luis Silva could be moved back here if we really needed him.

Let’s sign one of these.

Attacking midfield depth chart: Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino, Sebastian Saucedo, Luis Silva, Jose Hernandez

I think we’re good here — we have two top-class players who can play here (with Savarino having a secondary strength here next to his wide play), one backup, a secondary option for backup play (Silva) and a reserve player. You don’t get much better than this in MLS. Let’s keep this strong.


Wide forwards: Joao Plata, Jefferson Savarino, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo, Jordan Allen

This is a good set of players, but I’d actually like for us to sign a young player that could start to come up the ranks here. Maybe we can keep that an as-needed signing from Real Monarchs, but it’s something I think we should consider.

Other than that, wow — Plata, Savarino and Lennon? That’s an excellent set of players. Allen’s a good option if he can kick the injuries, while Saucedo is more likely to play here than in a midfield role.

Central forwards: Luis Silva, Brooks Lennon

At this point, everyone is expecting Yura Movsisyan to leave, so he’s off the list. It then becomes noticeable very quickly that we need to sign a forward. We cannot get by again with Luis Silva as our only feasible option — last time around, that scarcity of option led to us playing a demotivated Movsisyan, and that didn’t do anyone much good.

We need to sign a forward.