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Roster Breakdown: RSL needs depth options, top mostly filled out

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Here’s what we know so far.

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

As we enter into the depths of the offseason, and as we navigate the universe we’ve found ourselves flung into, Real Salt Lake’s 2019 roster is starting to take some interesting shape.

It’s not complete, but here’s where we’re sitting now. I’ll add some commentary in each section.

Goalkeepers

I actually think we’re solid here. Nick Rimando has one year left in him, tops, Alex Horwath could end up featuring after missing 2018 through injury, and Andrew Putna has proven a good depth and potential option.

  • Alex Horwath
  • Andrew Putna
  • Nick Rimando

Defenders

I’m actually not convinced this is what the defense will look like moving forward. We have every reason to think that Danilo Acosta won’t be sticking around in 2019, given the way his 2018 went, but he is under contract.

I’d also be surprised if Adam Henley returns, given once he returned to fitness, he didn’t even make the bench. He played a few times for Real Monarchs, but that was sort of it. I could be surprised here, though.

We also know that Marcelo Silva has agitated for a new contract, so we’ll see how that plays out. If he does move, we’ll want to add to our center back options, as Justen Glad and Nedum Onuoha are just two people, and as we’ve seen what happens when Nick Besler is played out of position. We’ll need to boost our full back offerings as well, especially if Acosta and Henley don’t return in 2019.

  • Danilo Acosta
  • Justen Glad
  • Adam Henley
  • Aaron Herrera
  • Brooks Lennon
  • Nedum Onuoha
  • Marcelo Silva

Midfielders

Um, this isn’t enough, but I want to be clear about how I sorted this. I’ve put Besler here because I think he’s a better midfielder than defender. I’ve also left Rusnak and other players who can play the attacking midfield spot in our ‘attacking players of some sort’ category, because really, we’re playing four attacking players in any given game, and Rusnak’s spot is one of those.

This also assumes that Damir Kreilach is going to play in the midfield. That might not be happen. If he doesn’t, we’re left with three midfielders that play an even remotely defensive role. I’m operating under the assumption he does play there, but you know, who knows?

Anyway, let’s talk. I think Luke Mulholland could end up coming back, but I have no actual evidence for that. Luis Silva could also return in a midfield role, but I somehow doubt that.

I guess my point here is that we need to strengthen our midfield. If we’re just playing two remotely defensive midfielders, we can probably get by with four very good players, but we need the ability to rotate.

  • Kyle Beckerman
  • Nick Besler
  • Damir Kreilach
  • Pablo Ruiz

Attacking players of some sort

So, this is a big list. We have two unknowns: Jordan Allen and Julian Vazquez. The way Mike Petke talked on Tuesday about Allen makes me think he’ll be returning in 2019, and that’s fine by me. We’ll see, though.

Julian Vazquez, on the other hand, is going to play with Real Monarchs for a year, and that’s more or less confirmed. If he ends up killing it down there, I could see him coming back up, but at the same time, we haven’t really done that much as a club.

I’d love to have Brooks Lennon on this list, too, but that will come as no surprise.

At any rate, there’s a glaring hole here: We don’t have a central forward. Maybe we never will. We’ve seen how Yura Movsisyan worked out, and we’ve also seen how Alfredo Ortuño worked out. Here’s the hypothetical I’ve been asking myself: If Mike Petke coached Alvaro Saborio, would he have had the same success he did under Jason Kreis?

I also wonder if the time is right to deal Joao Plata, but that’s a different question altogether. I’m operating under the assumption that it won’t be happening.

  • Jordan Allen
  • Corey Baird
  • Joao Plata
  • Albert Rusnak
  • Sebastian Saucedo
  • Jefferson Savarino
  • Julian Vazquez

Players that might come back, maybe?

This is a short list. I wouldn’t be surprised if these players come back. That’s all.

  • Tony Beltran
  • Luke Mulholland
  • Luis Silva

The big takeaway

I think our top side of the roster is pretty well formed by now. We need depth options. We also need those players to get minutes, both with Real Monarchs and with RSL. Situations like Jose Hernandez’s, where he just never got a chance, are untenable.

I came into the offseason feeling a little negative about things, and I’m sure you’re not surprised. But I do think our roster is set up for some success, and if we can extend it a bit, we’ll be in a good position from that perspective.

The big question I’m left with: How many players will be leaving through a trade or transfer or some sort? That’s something I’ll be thinking about in the coming weeks.