Death, taxes, and questions from people who don’t know a lot about Real Salt Lake.
If it is safe to assume that most people who are supporters of Real Salt Lake make it known at home, work, and school that they are supporters, it is also safe to assume that they are often asked the same question 16, 18, 100 different times—“how do we look this year?”
Although most supporters wouldn’t bat an eye at the opportunity to talk about RSL, this question is often asked by people who likely aren’t incredibly interested and don’t always actually care to know. But we answer anyway because we’re supporters and we care.
We answer because it helps us decompress all of the things that happen in an off season. We answer, and each time we are asked, we come up with better versions of our replies. In answering the question “Is RSL prepared” (a possible form of “How do we look this year?”), I have narrowed the answer down to, “No… But that’s okay.”
Although Albert Rusnak and Jordan Allen seem like great replacements for Javier Morales and Burrito Martinez, and although Matt Van Oekel and Chad Barrett seem like great subs for Nick Rimando and Yura Movsisyan, the “Not Yet Proven” lights keep flashing in the back of my mind, forcing me to face the fact that it isn’t fair to expect these players to fill shoes right away.
And because it isn’t fair to expect them to do that, I have to come to the realization that, regardless of potential, these should still be filed under the “missing pieces” category. We’re still missing a Javi, a Burrito, and a Jeff Attinella, and until the players we brought in show they can effectively step in for the ones we let go, it is only fair to say that we’re missing pieces.
Death, taxes, and RSL tying games late. The team hasn’t shown (in the pre-season campaign) that they’ve learned from last year’s mistakes. I think that they did the absolute most they could to prepare themselves for this season, but the team does not feel prepared to face the likes of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Toronto’s new shiny toy, Victor Vázquez. I would love to be proven wrong, but there is nothing that screams otherwise at this moment.
With all due respect to the other players on our team, RSL plays differently without their captain, as would be expected of any team, and I don’t think the pre-season showed that they have a plan to stack up too many points while he is absent. I think they could do it mid-season, and maybe handle it late-ish, but I don’t think they have shown (in the pre-season games) that they can deal with it this early.
But it’s okay
Death, taxes, and being told that nobody wants their team to play the best soccer of the season too early. October is a lot longer away that it seems, and while coming out guns blazing isn’t an awful way to start any season, it is important to remember that we didn’t win a single game the last two months of the 2016 season.
Although I hope two months like that never happen again, if I had to pick two months for that to happen in this season, I would choose March and April. One of my favorite things about this league comes from the fact that no team is defined or held down by a poor record. RSL may not seem (to me) prepared today, but I have no doubt that they will figure it out.
So, the next time you are asked “Is RSL prepared?” I hope you can reply, “No yet. But that’s okay because we have until October and we will get it together.”