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Why U-20 call-ups both hurt and help RSL

Glad, Acosta, Lennon and Saucedo are off to the big tournament. That’s both good and bad for Real Salt Lake.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

To say it’s been busy in Real Salt Lake-land might be a bit of an understatement.

After all, we’ve been dealing with injuries to the nines (I didn’t know where that phrase comes from, but you better believe I just looked it up, and there’s not a definitive answer), and we’re losing four players to U.S. U-20 World Cup duty. We’ve also just signed a player ( , Jefferson Savarino!), and we simply haven’t been winning games.

And while we should think about each thing on its own, let’s just take a minute to break down the impact of the U-20 call-ups. We’ll be without Danilo Acosta, Justen Glad, Sebastian Saucedo, and Brooks Lennon.

Good thing! This looks great for the academy and RSL.

International soccer is a tricky thing. Players rarely stick around too long at the club at which they developed, and exceptions are typically notable. And while I’m in the awkward position that I’d love to see every good player stay here, I also have to wrestle with the knowledge that not every player can stay here. Some want to move up. I get it. And if we kept every great player, there wouldn’t be room for the next great player.

So by having five RSL-associated players (Aaron Herrera being the lone player still in college) with the U-20 national team, young players will sit up and take notice. It can be the sort of thing that differentiates you from, say, LA Galaxy, who have no players involved at this level. Or, say, New York Red Bulls, who have one.

Of course, it’s nothing if those players don’t perform at the international level, so we’ll want to keep an eye on that. But young players will continue to see development opportunities here, and that helps our reputation in recruitment.

Bad thing! We need our players. Like, badly.

The following players have not been listed as injured in the most recent injury report, and they are also not slated for an extended absence for international duty.

  1. Matt VanOekel
  2. Lalo Fernandez
  3. Aaron Maund
  4. Justin Schmidt
  5. Chris Schuler
  6. Reagan Dunk
  7. Demar Phillips
  8. Chris Wingert
  9. Stephen Sunday
  10. Luke Mulholland
  11. Omar Holness
  12. Jose Hernandez
  13. Albert Rusnák
  14. Luis Silva
  15. Jefferson Savarino (!!!)
  16. Yura Movsisyan
  17. Joao Plata
  18. Ricardo Velazco

Sure, that’s enough to fill a roster. And sure, Jordan Allen, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman might be back soon-ish. And the same can be said for David Horst. But four players makes a pretty substantial dent, especially when three of them have already earned regular minutes.

Good thing! It’s probably the only reason we landed Brooks Lennon this season.

There’s an overwhelming consensus that Real Salt Lake bringing Brooks Lennon in on loan was valuable because he and Liverpool both knew he was going to be gone with the U-20 World Cup this summer, and this gave him a good chance to get playing time ahead of that. Of course, there are plenty of assumptions there, but it’s hard to imagine it didn’t play a role.

Bad thing! They’ll miss a bunch of first-team games.

For all the progress Saucedo, Lennon and Acosta have made, there will be a certain lack of continuity that will make things a little difficult when they come back. We might also, you know, like to have them around. I get it, and that will be one of the trickier parts about losing these players for an extended period.

But it’s also worth considering that these players fit in well to the team after coming back from U-20 duty last time, and we probably don’t need to worry too much.

Also bad thing! Justen Glad got injured last time.

I don’t really have any words about this one, but I sure hope he doesn’t get injured again. I don’t think I could stomach it.

Good thing! National pride, etc.

I suppose it’s a good thing if the U-20 World Cup winners are the United States — at least from my perspective, and I wouldn’t hoist that onto any of you and the nations you support of call home. But still, that’s something I think would be pretty cool.

And if you can’t get behind that, maybe you can get behind some of our players hoisting a trophy. Maybe it will be a preview for a trophy-hoisting later in the season. One can only hope.