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Depth Report: With Barrett out, RSL must retool forward thinking

Yura Movsisyan’s still the starter, but who’s behind him? The questions start now.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Going into 2017, you might have looked at Real Salt Lake and thought the forward depth was actually pretty good. Chad Barrett behind Yura Movsisyan? That seemed positive.

Today, we learned that Chad Barrett is set for an extended absence after a recent injury forced him to undergo surgery.

That’s hardly the best news we could have had this week, certainly. It’s even trickier given we’re without a head coach, with Daryl Shore serving as interim coach.

So what happens from here? Well, obviously, Yura Movsisyan remains our starter. There’s no reason to change that. But it’s unrealistic to expect him to never get injured, and that’s going to throw things into a little bit of disarray.

Here’s how I might line up the depth chart.

Brooks Lennon

Until Jordan Allen’s back in the lineup, this is a non-starter, but Lennon was playing as a central striker for Liverpool in a similar (I mean, sort of) setup. He’s shown he can fit right into this lineup, he can play off the shoulder of defenders, and he’s got more pace than any of us realized.

The upside? He can do good things in this role. He’s been trained there. He has experience in the last year there.

The downside? Lennon has been excellent on the right wing. Removing him from that role — his more natural role, certainly — might detract from the excellent work he’s already done.

Luis Silva

I know it’s seemed like Silva is very much a midfielder in our system, but the fact of the matter is that we’re playing him deeper than he ever had been before. It wasn’t until 2014 that D.C. United started playing him there with any regularity (10 appearances).

Of course, there may be mitigating factors here. It could be that he’s not actually a striker, and that’s he been played out of position there. It could be that he’s actively not developed that part of his game. And, of course, you throw in the fact that at Tigres, he didn’t actively play competitive matches, and you’re left in a bit of a bind.

He’s not going to be particularly fast, and he’s not going to be the guy that holds the ball up better than anyone else. Given what we’ve seen from his this year, we might wonder what exactly what we’d end up seeing from him — and that’s a valid thing to wonder about.

Should he be considered here? Sure — why not? It’s not my favorite solution, but it’s worth a go.

Joao Plata

Obviously, this would throw things into a bit of disarray. Joao Plata is not a central striker. Full stop. He might be a good second striker, but up top on his own? You might as well not play a striker. He won’t play like one.

Maybe that’s the point, though. What if we played Plata there in a second-striker role without someone to pair him with? Or — and maybe this is too weird — we just let him do whatever he wants? Maybe giving him a free role without defensive responsibilities?

This certainly isn’t a great idea tactically — or at least it’s not well-considered — but it does have the added advantage of surprising our opponents. And really, any time you get a chance to do that, I think you should take it. Soccer is more fun that way.