Matt Van Oekel, who played for Real Salt Lake in 2017 as a backup goalkeeper, has landed at a new club following his contract option being declined: Oklahoma City Energy FC, who play in the USL.
Van Oekel, 31, joined RSL during the last offseason as a backup option to Nick Rimando; his time at the club wasn’t a huge success by any stretch, conceding 22 goals in seven matches played. That record is at least somewhat mitigated by the fact that he played only during RSL’s worst stretch. That was the time in which it seemed the team could do nothing right at all, including back-to-back losses to Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas, who bested us 5-1 and 6-2, respectively.
The bulk of Van Oekel’s time at the club was spent injured, but during that time, Nick Rimando was available, leaving RSL in a reasonably safe position. Van Oekel’s exit from the club was widely expected following the 2017 season, but it does leave RSL in an interesting position.
At current, RSL has only one rostered goalkeeper: Connor Sparrow. Nick Rimando is certainly expected to sign a new deal at the club, however, which leaves us in need of one backup option. Sparrow may prove to be that player, but another goalkeeper will need to be added to serve as his backup in the event of a Rimando injury.
However you remember Van Oekel, he certainly had one of the better facial hair outlays the club has seen since the departure of veteran Nat Borchers to Portland Timbers.