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Why RSL’s rumored interest in Cristóbal Jorquera makes sense

And why RSL still needs a center back — and will probably sign one.

Parma FC v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

I see you sitting there, asking why Real Salt Lake needs a midfielder, and why rumors have just started floating around about Chilean midfielder Cristóbal Jorquera. And you know what? I get it. We need a center back, you’re saying, and I agree with you.

But rumors about signing a midfielder shouldn’t be taken as evidence that we’re not signing a center back — and sure, I know what you’re thinking right now, too. We’ve heard we’re looking center backs for how long now? RSL general manager Craig Waibel has been clear in that for two years now, and we still haven’t signed a top-level center back.

You’re right to be frustrated by that. I’m not going to make any excuses for that right now, although I think there are definitely arguments to be made for the sorts of changes we’ve made.

If we’re to be honest, I really do think we’re going to announce a move shortly, especially after Waibel yesterday reiterated that we do already have one player signed. My prediction? He’s probably a free agent. Given we’re looking to make a couple signings, and given this Jorquera stuff sounds to maybe actually have legs, I’m guessing that we can’t afford to bring in two TAM players in the middle of the season unless we move somebody significant and valuable out. (The only notable options there, for me: Joao Plata and Justen Glad — which, please note, isn’t me saying that either player should be traded here.)

Anyway, without naming names, I really, sincerely doubt the rumor that floated around on Reddit today, simply because bringing in one of the best players in the Turkish second division would require a bit of financial finagling, and I really think we’ve signed a center back as a free agent.

Anyway, that’s all distracting from our main purpose here, which is to assess why RSL might be interested in Jorquera, not to talk about center backs more.

Our midfield is weak

I know I’ve been preaching this same thing over and over, but I’m firmly convinced that a team lives and dies by its midfield. A good midfield will protect a poor defense by some means, and it’ll feed poor forwards in good positions. But if you have a great defense and a great forward line but a poor midfield presence, you’re more likely to end up with neither end of that really working, because even the best striker can’t score without service (well, maybe the very best, but that’s tangential), and even the best defense can’t cope with players being given time and space to make fantastic passes to running players.

Right now, our workable midfield is Kyle Beckerman, Sunny and Luke Mulholland. Omar Holness is out with an injury, and from the sounds of Mike Petke’s discussions with reporters, it could be a significant one. Our other midfielders are more attack-minded, which is great, and I think we’re well-stocked there with Albert Rusnak, Luis Silva, and Jose Hernandez.

Beckerman is nearing the end of his career, Sunny has been injury-prone in 2017, and Mulholland is what he always is: A hard-working no. 8 that excels when he doesn’t start every match he plays. A player like Jorquera could come in and make that no. 8 position really his.

Jorquera has top-level experience

For the last six years, Cristóbal Jorquera has played at reasonably good first-division Italian and Turkish teams. His last two years at Bursaspor have seen him play 55 matches over two years, and Transfermarkt records him as missing only three matches through injury.

During his six years in Europe, he scored 14 goals and earned 21 assists. He had one red card, too — which seems pretty good for the position.

We need players that can help shepherd this side into its new era over the next five years. We have young players that will hopefully develop into massively important figures, but that middle of our roster, the 28- and 29-year-olds, is simply lacking. In that way, a move for Jorquera isn’t necessarily a move for now — it’s a move for next year, and it’s a move for the year after that. It’s during that tricky time that we need players to help bring our young core into the next era.

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