I know this maybe isn’t the most popular of opinions right now, but I actually think Real Salt Lake’s roster has been constructed pretty well. When fully healthy (or even moderately close to healthy) this team is a playoff quality team.
This isn’t to say I don’t have my gripes with Craig Waibel, but they lie in a different area. A generation of former academy players are seeing big minutes in the first team this season, but similar players are noticeably absent from the Real Monarchs.
While teams like Atlanta United and the Vancouver Whitecaps have signed 15 and 16 year olds to their USL teams, we have struggled to even bring in our college age contingent.
Maybe the technical staff didn’t think they were USL ready, maybe they (the players) want to be living the quintessential college experience, maybe they want to do art or whatever 18 year olds do when they aren’t playing soccer, but the end result is that we have what seems like premier youth talent, losing key developmental years on college campuses.
Bringing more academy players into the Monarchs setup should be a key agenda item over the next few years. Pay for their tuition to local universities, offer higher salaries, figure out a way to get these guys on board. Here are three college players Waibel should be in touch with immediately:
Tanner Dieterich - CB - Clemson
Dieterich is a center back who played on a talented academy team. He also made consistent appearances for various USYNT age groups, including a trip to Chile for the U-17 World Cup in 2015. He’s currently playing for the Clemson Tigers, where he made 19 appearances tallying a goal and assist this past season.
Aaron Herrera - RB - New Mexico
Herrera’s name should be familiar to frequent readers as he is one of the five RSL Academy graduates to be called up to the U.S. squad for the U-20 World Cup. Out of the five, he is the only one not playing professional soccer. His accomplishments include a trip to the USSDA Championship with his academy class and this beauty of a goal.
He fills a need as an eventual replacement for Tony Beltran on the right side of the defense. He could also potentially moonlight as an Olympic gymnast/super hero.
Elijah Rice - FW - Washington
A prolific number 9 who has reels on reels of goalscoring highlights, including a weekend where he bagged EIGHT GOALS.
He has high energy on both sides of the ball, and would be a great fit for the Monarch’s high press.
Stats and info courtesy of Clemson, Washington, and New Mexico school websites
Anyone you’d like to see with the Monarch’s? Questions on anything else RSL? Let us know in the comments!