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2018 Player Profiles: Adam Henley

The Welsh-American right back never took off in his first year in MLS.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

When Adam Henley arrived at Real Salt Lake, we all thought we were getting a player that would at the very least challenge for starting minutes at right back.

That’s because Tony Beltran, RSL veteran, had suffered an injury that we all knew would take him out of contention for most of 2018 — and that’s how it turned out, in the end.

But the thing that didn’t work out quite how we expected was Adam Henley’s season would work out. Over the course of 2018, he played in just five matches for the first team. The 24-year-old started only two of those matches, and he didn’t make a single MLS appearance after May 19.

From there forward, he featured exclusively for Real Monarchs, starting eight times for 682 minutes. He became a regular fixture in that team.

One must wonder how it happened for Henley, and what it means for his RSL career. With the expectations we’d had for him — perhaps unfairly, given he arrived having not played professionally since March 2017. That’s nine months without a match, and while that’s largely down to injuries, it did leave him very much on the rusty side.

That perception was bolstered by the fact that he’d spent an extended period of time injured with Blackburn Rovers, his last professional team. Those hamstring injuries haunted his time there, and they never really let him get momentum in Salt Lake City.

He proved capable enough, if not a stunning signing, for Real Monarchs. He was never meant to be that player, but perhaps we should have expected that.

If Henley used up an international slot, I would be surprised to see him return in 2019. But as things stand, I do think he might be given a second opportunity, at least in preseason. That’s helped by the fact that he has a guaranteed contract for at least next year, and the club’s not likely to want to abdicate themselves of that — at least, not now.

If the club does get an offer for him, or if there’s some interest that could lead to him being given a mutual release, I don’t think anything changes to our depth chart. Tony Beltran ought to return — though that’s still not a certainty — and even if he’s not first choice, we’ll be well-set with Aaron Herrera and Brooks Lennon fighting for a starting place.