The future of RSL's GM Craig Waibel is unclear. Everyone has an opinion on whether or not he deserves a contract extension. With the season coming to a close, I asked myself what I would do if I was GM with a few caveats. First, lets say there are no contract restrictions. Second, I have free reign to keep, drop, sell, offer a pay raise or a pay decrease, or send a player down to the Monarchs. As this is my first FanPost, please bear with me as I walk through each player on our roster and the decisions I would make as GM in the off-season.
Danilo Acosta - 20 - $100,000
Pay Raise - RSL needs to do anything they can to keep him. He is young, underpaid, and a rare talent that is desperately needed on defense. Whatever the rift has been between Danny and Petke, it needs resolved. Send them on one of those Beckerman fly fishing trips together or something. I have a nagging fear that he will be gone in the off-season and we will see him playing in Europe and eventually the US national team. Carlos Salcedo 2.0?
Jordan Allen - 23 - $225,000
Monarchs - I really love Jordan Allen. He is a proven impact player when healthy. He is also Mr. Glass from Unbreakable. Until he can survive a healthy season with the Monarchs, I don’t think we should keep him on the senior roster.
Shawn Barry - 28 - $131,250
Keep, for now - I haven’t seen enough of Shawn to make an educated decision here. He hasn’t proven enough to make the starting lineup but is consistently on the bench and has been called up to the Puerto Rico national team. Does that mean that means that he’s earned it or that he’s receiving these opportunities out of necessity? Either way, he’s cheap enough to keep.
Corey Baird - 22 - $54,504
Pay Raise - If anyone deserves a raise for his performance this year, it’s Corey Baird. He leaves it all out on the field each and every game and has been rewarded because of it. Please sign long-term deal with this well-deserved rookie of the year.
Tony Beltran - 31 - $240,950
Keep - Tony was one of the most consistent players in RSL history until he was injured by the cRapids’ Dominique Badji. I wish nothing but the best for Tony and I hope his return from injury will result in him re-claiming his starting spot. It would be nice to see a right-back play right-back again.
Nick Besler - 25 - $67,500
Keep - Besler has come in and filled his role admirably playing most of the year at center back. He is not however, a center back. Our last game of the playoffs was a glaring indication of that fact. The limited time he has played defensive midfield with RSL he has looked excellent and would be excellent as a depth option…. at DM… NOT CB!
Adam Henley - 24 - $122,833
Drop - Henley came into the season with a lot of hype among the RSL fan base. A young player coming of injury with EPL experience, um yes please. For some reason, he just hasn’t been able to consistently travel with the team. I’d be OK with keeping him on the Monarchs for now, but I think we need a more consistent left back for 2019.
Jose Hernandez - 22 - $70,875
Monarchs - An amazing homegrown player with a lot of heart, yet he’s an inch shorter and 4 lbs lighter than Sebastian Giovinco. Until he can learn to use his stature as Giovinco or even Joao Plata has, he won’t be able to be anything more than a good USL caliber player.
David Horst - 33 - $131,629
Drop/Keep - Horst was one of the hardest decisions for me, which is why I didn’t really land on a decision for him. I love having super physical center backs. Pairing him and Nedum Onuoha would be scary. If he wasn’t perpetually injured, I would 100% keep him as a depth player.
Alex Horwath - 31 - $73,362
Keep? - I never saw him play before his injury but you can never have enough cheap goalkeepers, right?
Ricky Lopez-Espin - 22 - $76,250
Keep/Monarchs - Ricky needs time to develop. If it wasn’t for his injury, I think he would have made the 18 numerous times this year. Bring him back as a regular starter on the Monarchs to help him work his way back to get first team minutes. He’s a 6’3’’, 200 lb forward. We need to develop a guy with his size into a goal-scoring machine. Will that happen? Only time will tell.
Luke Mulholland - 30 - $173,250
Keeeeeeeeep! - Luuuuuuuuuke! Random sloppy play aside, no one can deny Luke’s work ethic. The guy is Forrest Gumping all over the pitch and the fans love him for it. He’s also a great locker-room guy. Keep him around for as long as his body will allow.
Taylor Peay - 27 - $67,500
Keep – Taylor in my opinion just needs a shot with the first team. He had an excellent showing against Eintracht Frankfurt. I’d love to see him in the starting lineup next year. Give him a shot! After all, he is a center back, unlike Besler.
Demar Phillips - 35 - $126,250
Drop - Demar seems to be injured more often than he’s healthy. He’s in the twilight of his career and we need consistent depth at left back. He has shown really well in Petke’s system but I just don’t see him as a long-term solution. Please just play Acosta at left back… please.
Andrew Putna - 24 - $67,500
Pay Raise - Putna filled in admirably when Rimando was injured this year. He made some excellent saves that, IMO, earned him a consistent spot on the first team. I’m not convinced he’s Nick Rimando’s heir apparent, but he’s proven depth.
Pablo Ruiz - 19 - $201,000
Monarchs - My feelings are mixed with Pablo. He had a great showing earlier this year as a left back. Remember that?! Yes, a center mid as a left back, SMH, but I digress. He doesn’t quite have the confidence required to be playing in the MLS yet. I think the time he has had with the first team made that abundantly clear. He’s too young and has too much potential to set aside.
Marcelo Silva - 29 - $726,625
Keep - We are in dire need of a consistent center back pairing and I think Marcelo is a top 2 option for us now. He is injury prone, but his injuries aren’t long lasting. We do need more depth here, but Marcelo is someone we need for 2019 and beyond.
Luis Silva - 30 - $233,667
Keep/Sell? - I really don’t know what to do with Luis. I think he would be much better utilized as an offensive midfielder but who do you bench in his behalf? Rusnak? Damir? I don’t think so. I think he’s great at the false 9 but not in the long-ball tactic situation that Petke has led us to this year. He excels in that position when the ball is played straight up the spine because of his ability to keep possession in tight spaces up top. I say keep him for now and hope we change tactics every once in a while. Wishful thinking?
Connor Sparrow - 24 - $54,504
Keep - Sparrow has been a successful goalkeeper on the Monarchs. His success has extended to him landing a shot with the first team. Will he be Rimando’s replacement when he retires? That is unclear, but we MUST know the answer to that question BEFORE the end of the 2019 season.
Nick Rimando - 39 - $422,500
Keep – On the Audi player index site, Rimando was #2 in the league for goals conceded from inside the box at 55. He was also ranked #3 for goals conceded from outside the box with 9. On the flip side, he was #1 in the league in saves from shots inside the box with 90. This tells me two things. Rimando can still play, and our defense needs a lot of help. We can’t rely on Rimando to save our butt every time our goal gets peppered with shots. He will likely retire after next year. Who will replace the GOAT?
Aaron Herrera - 21 - $67,500
Pay Raise - This season has proven Herrera as one of the top outside backs in the league. He deserves a pay raise. He was stalwart at left back but again, that’s not his preferred position. Think of how much better he would be at right back. Cue the Beach Boys… Wouldn’t it be nice…
Nedum Onuoha - 32 - $219,000
Keep – Why we didn’t play him as soon as he signed with us, we may never know. There was speculation about fitness but I’m not buying it. What we do know is that without Ned, we wouldn’t have beat LAFC. His leadership and quality of play was on full display in the playoffs. I’d love to see what a full season with him as our #1 center back would bring. Olave 2.0?
Brooks Lennon - 21 - $237,583
Keep - Lennon was formidable at left back this year… for a few games. He was near the top of the team for assists on the year as a left back. His crosses and vision have improved tenfold as the season has progressed. I would have loved to see him playing winger or even up top for a few games this year. If only we had a natural right back to play in his stead… Aaron Herrera anyone?
Kyle Beckerman - 36 - $530,008
Keep - Beckerman has one more year left in him… as a super sub. His legs are showing his age. He will never be the same box-to-box killer as he once was. He still has tremendous value not only as a leader, but as a super-sub off the bench in the 60th minute. Hopefully RSL has learned their lesson and won’t "Do him dirty" (thanks Dunny) and give him a proper send-off. I still love you Javi!
Sunny - 30 - $288,000
Keep – Sunny is still a good depth option. Nothing more, nothing less. If he tries to play the holdout game like he tried early in spring training, drop him. We don’t need that kind of drama coming into next season. Speaking of not needing drama, onto Albert.
Albert Rusnak - 24 - $925,820
Pay Raise - Please just pay the guy. This is getting beyond ridiculous. Remember when we were so nervous about finding a replacement for Javi? We have found him. He is here. Pay him now. Also, this may all just be in my head, but I think that Rusnak would serve us better in our current Petke system on the wing. The Slovakia national team plays him there. Give it a shot.
Damir Kreilach - 29 - $1,013,333
Keep - Damir was the shining star of the 2018 season. The hype train was running down the tracks among RSL faithful with Damir coming into the league this year. It took a few months for him to get acclimated, but he was the clear MVP of our team. The guy has made our fans swoon with 1980’s flashbacks of Mr. Miyagi and the Karate Kid. In less than a year Damir has solidified himself in RSL fan lore for years to come. What will the future bring for Damir? Legend Status?
Joao Plata - 26 - $683,333
Sell/Pay Decrease - I know I'll receive a lot of flack for this one because I know there are many among the RSL faithful that will defend Plata to the grave. I think there is some value left in Plata but I don’t see it manifesting itself on RSL’s squad. He is the antithesis of Luuuke. No movement off the ball, non-existent defense, and balls easily given away in the final third. OK, maybe not the exact antithesis of Luke, but you get the picture. Plata is streaky and inconsistent. At his pay level, we should be seeing much more production from him. Petke is widely considered a motivator, but I am not seeing it in Plata. Despite his performance in the last game of the playoffs, I say sell him for some plata. (Google it in Spanish)
Jefferson Savarino - 22 - $398,688
Keep/Pay Raise - Savarino had himself another great year with a shaky start. He was ranked 4th in the league for take-ons won at 77. He led the team in assists with 11, and notched 7 goals on 78 shots (stats taken from RSL’s website). That’s a lot of shots for only 7 goals. If Jefferson can focus on quality shots over quantity, 2019 will be a break-out season for him.
Justen Glad – 21 - $291,700
Keep – Glad has become a staple on our squad. He has played so much that it’s hard to realize that he is a 21-year-old kid and not a seasoned veteran. Glad still needs time to develop as does the rest of our young core. Justen was ranked 2nd in the league on the Audi player index for interceptions with 91. He was also ranked 10th on clearances with 76. On the flip side, Justen ranked #4 for successful passes in his own half with 1,129. He ranked #9 for unsuccessful passes in his own half with 106. Rimando himself was ranked #3 on that list with 124. This tells me that he is a great defender but has much to improve upon. As a team we rely upon Nick too much to bail us out of high pressure in our half of the pitch. Does our defense need a clinic on how to work the ball out of the back when the opposing team’s offense is running a high line?
Sebastian "Bofo" Saucedo - 21 - $110,500
Keep - Bofo deserved more action than he got. He was consistently dangerous when he did get time and notched several goals in the process. I love Bofo right now as a super sub around the 60-65th minute to terrorize tired defenses and earn penalty kicks. The 2019 season is set to be his break-out year.
In 2019, we need more depth at left back and consistent depth at center back. We need a physical DM to replace Beckerman. We need to nail down Rimando's replacement and for the love of all that’s good and holy, please sign a strong, clinical center forward. We were looking at signing Jesús Dueñas from Tigres earlier this year. Can we sign him in a package deal with Andre-Pierre Christian Gignac? With names like that, we could be foreshadowing the second coming!
After running through this exercise, I am cautiously optimistic about the 2019 season. I think we have most of the pieces we need to compete for the supporters shield, but there are too many questions left unanswered. Who will be our GM moving forward? Will Dell Loy Hansen open his checkbook for us to add the missing pieces? Will Mike Petke play those pieces? Do we truly know that Alfredo Ortuño was a miss? Will the guys on the RSL show ever divulge their insider information? If you pray to Zlatan, will he answer?
Finally, from a RSL fan quote on mlssoccer.com:
Dear LAFC fans (and SKC),
May the chocolate chips in your cookies always turn out to be raisins. May every sock you wear be slightly rotated, just enough for it to be uncomfortable. May your mother come to talk to you, and then leave your door slightly ajar, so that you have to get up and close it. May your article load that extra little bit as you're about to click a link so you click an ad instead. May both sides of your pillow be warm. May you forever feel your cellphone vibrating in the pocket it's not even in. May your chair produce a sound similar to a fart, but only once, such that you cannot reproduce it to prove that it was just the chair. May you have your cell phone charge all night without noticing the chord isn't plugged in the wall. May you always step in a wet spot after putting on fresh socks. May the pin of the bathroom stall never reach the lock to close the door. May your spoon always slip and sink under the hot soup you eat. May you never be quite certain whether that pressure is a fart or poop.
May your life be as pleasant as you are.
This RSL fan
Do you agree with my analysis? Let me know in the comments below. Please forgive my terrible English grammar. I work in Finance in my professional life.