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What RSL needs for a successful 2018

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Real Salt Lake’s 2018 already promises to be a huge improvement, but we can’t be done improving yet.

Manchester United v Real Salt Lake Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

It’s clear to everyone, I trust, that 2018 is looking better than 2017. I know, sure, we brought in Albert Rusnak last year, and that brightened things, but the chaos of the offseason — the Javier Morales saga, the Jeff Cassar saga, the everything-else saga — dampened a lot of the good we did.

2018, to this point, has afforded us a clean departure from that. All the good we’ve done hasn’t been counterbalanced by much. But to say RSL is done would be a step too far. Here’s what we need to figure out if we’re going to be successful in 2018.

Midfielders!

Throughout the offseason — and, really, for six or seven months — we’ve been linked with midfielders. There’s Cristobal Jorquera, the Chilean box-to-box midfielder, and there’s Jesus Duenas, the Mexican ... box-to-box midfielder. Neither has panned out to this point, but it’s very clear that we’re looking to upgrade our midfield.

There’s a certain amount of uncertainty (and I should apologize for that wording rather immediately) around Sunny, whose having been missing at the beginning of preseason — even if it is resolved now — can’t be properly ignored. I don’t think we should simply jettison him, but we should be mindful that there may well be active discussions around his future.

It’s clear the team thinks we need to bring a midfielder in, and I happen to agree. It’s one area of our team we haven’t really upgraded — and after reinforcements at center back, full back, forward and attacking midfield in the last 12 months, it’s time for an upgrade.

Yura Movsisyan’s future decided

At this point, I’m not really feeling too strongly about whether Yura Movsisyan should return to Real Salt Lake, or if he should be shipped off somewhere else — Movsisyan with the right attitude again could be a hugely valuable piece. As we’ve seen, that’s a big if — the uncertainty as a result of Movsisyan’s roster position has not helped us much at all.

The thing that will hurt us most in this situation is if we continue to leave Movsisyan’s future undecided. Obviously, there are huge numbers of factors involved there, and it’s not just something that we can just point at and it goes away. That doesn’t change the need.

So, whatever happens, let’s just have that happen, once and for all. Leaving it as-is will only prolong any issues.

A positive start

We don’t need to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders, but we do need to start well. It will take some time for some players to adapt to MLS, to a new country, or to a new coach. There may even be some necessary time for players to adapt to a new system — we don’t know yet what RSL coach Mike Petke is planning.

With that in mind, a positive start would really help us as we navigate a reformed roster, and it would help us get a leg up on the competition. I’m not advocating that we spend all our energies on that, but it would sure be nice.