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Ranking RSL’s 12 under 24: Young players making big impacts

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We’re taking stock of RSL’s young squad.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

With MLS embarking on their annual 24 Under 24 series, I thought it would be useful to take a look at all of RSL’s players and rank them.

With two RSL players on the MLS list already, it’s clear that our having players here means a great deal to the way we have built our team. We have 12 rostered players under 24 years old — more than one-third our squad — and at least four of them are regular first-team players.

Unranked

Jordan Allen, 22

Allen’s unranked because of the injury that’s kept him out for all of the season, save the first two games of it.

Omar Holness, 23

While Holness hasn’t been out quite as long, he’s not likely to come back potentially after preseason.

Connor Sparrow, 23

I’ve left Sparrow unranked simply because he hasn’t played for RSL — he’s been great for Real Monarchs, but it’s hard to form direct comparisons with the other players.

Ranked

9 - Reagan Dunk, 23

He hasn’t exactly played much — three games, twice a starter — and he didn’t do enough in those matches to rank higher than anyone. He’s shown well occasionally for Real Monarchs, but he’s now finding it hard to make his way to the starting lineup there.

8 - Jose Hernandez, 21

Mark my words: Hernandez will be a regular contributor to RSL in the next two years. He has seven appearances to his name, and he’s adapted well to the team. Plus, he had that excellent flick over Marouane Fellaini. Who can forget that?

7 - Justin Schmidt, 23

You know, Schmidt got a bad rap at times, but for a rookie playing in one of the worst teams in MLS (you know, pre-turnaround), he did about as well as you can expect. He had some good moments and some bad moments, and really, it was the bad ones everyone was having at the same time that really made this difficult. He hasn’t played since May 31.

6 - Sebastian Saucedo, 20

I just don’t know what to make of Saucedo. After he came back from the U-20 World Cup, I was convinced he could fight for a place. He’s only come on for short stints, though — it does make you wonder what his role will be in 2018, if he returns.

5 - Brooks Lennon, 20

Lennon had easily one of the hottest starts to the season we saw on this team after he started eight consecutive games, playing 90 minutes in each. But since Jefferson Savarino joined, he’s been firmly a substitute, and he comes on in most matches. Now, he’s even played at forward. The real question: Is the club’s commitment to developing him waning without a firm deal to bring him in long term on the horizon, or is the need for results driving playing others?

4 - Danilo Acosta, 19

Only 19 and behind one of RSL’s most experienced players, Acosta has battled hard for a starting spot over Chris Wingert, and it looks like he’s won it again. While doing so, he’s looked very capable, if prone to some costly youthful exuberance.

3 - Jefferson Savarino, 20 (MLS ranking: #22)

What can you really say about Savarino that hasn’t been said? He’s so good. He pairs extremely well with Joao Plata and with Albert Rusnak, and that’s been part of our revolution. Let’s keep him.

2 - Justen Glad, 20 (MLS ranking: #18)

I’m a big fan of Glad, and he’s really nailed down the starting spot this season. There was certainly a little bit of risk to his position with Marcelo Silva coming in, but he stepped up immediately after returning from the U-20 World Cup. It’s a distant memory now, but he only barely made that after suffering an injury with the U-20 CONCACAF Championship — meaning he played his first 2017 minutes for RSL on June 17. On July 4, our turnaround really began. Glad ‘s a huge part of that.

1 - Albert Rusnak, 23 (MLS ranking: ?)

It will be criminal if Rusnak shows up outside the top 10 in the 24 Under 24 ranking, and really, he should be a top five player. He’s an instant differentiator at Real Salt Lake. When he plays, we’re better. When he doesn’t play, we miss him. He’s mature, smart on the ball, and has filled a hole we had when Javier Morales left. Rusnak is the real deal.