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Predicting 2018: Newcomer of the Year

MLS: Real Salt Lake vs. Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Kelly

Damir Kreilach

I don’t think I can wholly put in to words how badly I want this to be the case. I think many RSL fans have felt, especially since the demise of the diamond-shaped four player midfield, that the team needs a killer number 8. Mulholland has been serviceable, if not excellent, and Sunny can be inconsistent and doesn’t always do enough in generating attacking chances in my opinion. Kreilach can be the step up in the box-to-box role for this team, and if he plays to the best of his capability I think it’s going to vastly improve the fortunes of this team.

Wirtjo Leonard

Damir Kreilach

I was going back and forth between Aaron Herrera and Damir Kreilach, but I ultimately went with the Croatian. I don’t think he’ll start right off the bat, but I think he’ll make a difference, and a big one. He has experience, he can score, he can pass, he’s been a captain at his previous club and he’s incredibly loyal to the clubs that he has played for. He fits what we fans at Real Salt Lake want in our players to a T. Could he be the long term piece in the mid-field that we have been looking for? Absolutely.

Jordan Webb

Damir Kreilach

Going into the 2018 Kreilach feels like a wildcard, but seeing what he did for FC Union Berlin gives me a great feeling with what we’re going to see this season. He’s got a great shot that generates a lot power with accuracy. He’s a box-to-box player with experience as a captain, which will make for an awesome partnership with Kyle Beckerman. This also gives RSL’s youth a great mentor on the field. He can run the 1-2 pass into the thick of it inside the 18’, and if there is anything RSL needs, it’s some veteran knowledge sprinkled into the attack. I think he’s going to become a fan favorite much sooner than we all expect.

Megan Webb

Aaron Herrera

This is a bit of an unexpected pick I’m sure, but I truly think this kid is going to be the future of RSL. He’s going into 2018 knowing he is expected to take Tony Beltran’s spot in the back and figure it out. I think with Justen Glad being alongside him, someone Herrera is very used to working with, he will have a standout year. He may not be one of the high dollar or high profile signings RSL made in the offseason, but he’s got a tremendous amount of talent, and big shoes to fill. I think he’ll be able to pull it off.

Pierre Smith

Shawn Barry

If the very talented Megan Webb picking Herrera is unexpected, then the above average British guy picking Shawn Barry is just absurd. But I have my reasons! Having seen Silva play in the back line and watching his communication with other players in the Mic’d Up video series, I have this nagging feeling he’s not going to quite set the world on fire like people may hope. If that happens, Barry is the next logical choice to start at CB and he’s got all the physical tools to do a great job. As I’ve said, defence is where we need to do work and I wouldn’t be shocked to see RSL end the season with a Glad/Barry pairing.

Jerrad Pullum

Alfredo Ortuño

I have the same reasons as Ryan Kelly for my pick. As much as he wants an excellent number 8, I am very hopeful that Ortuño will be the true number 9 that RSL has been lacking since the departure of Alvaro Saborio. This team has the ability to bend plenty of crosses into the 18, and if Ortuño pans out to be the true number 9 goalscorer that we have seen flashes of thus far, it can only bode well for RSL. If Ortuño is able to come in and fill this role for the team, it is my belief that our attack and goal-scoring numbers could reach unprecedented numbers.

Matt Montgomery

Damir Kreilach

I wasn’t allowed to pick Brooks Lennon (he’s sort of new, right, given he’s not on loan, right?), nor could I pick Jefferson Savarino (he was also on loan!), so I had to go with Kreilach, just like a number of my fellow writers here. He’s a goalscoring midfielder, plays in a role we’ve needed to fill for several years, and could be exactly the piece we need to find success. He may not be the most flashy, but I’m excited for what he brings to the table. Or maybe it’ll be Pablo Ruiz. You never know.