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Roster Update: Taking stock of RSL’s 2020 depth

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What does RSL need, and what do they really want?

Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders FC - Western Conference Semifinals Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

With initial roster moves being announced today, it’s high time we start taking a deep look at Real Salt Lake’s roster heading into the 2020 season.

For each position or group, I’ve added ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. I’m probably wrong about those, so why don’t you tell me what you think?

Goalkeepers (2)

  • David Ochoa — the heir apparent, but is he too young to take over full-time? Should RSL be looking at somebody to do that while Ochoa develops?
  • Andrew Putna — a good enough goalkeeper when called on, but how much potential is there, and how would consistent minutes change his growth curve?

Need: Another goalkeeper, obviously. Alex Horwath and Nick Rimando have both retired, and we need a third.

Want: A veteran on the downward trend (or maybe sitting stable but past their peak) to backstop David Ochoa — and to teach him.

Defenders (4)

Center backs

  • Justen Glad — the once and future king, Glad should be starting every game possible. He’s our guy. I hope he never leaves. (He’s going to leave someday, and I’m going to be real sad.)
  • Nedum Onuoha — the man wants to retire here, and we should let him. He’s excellent, a compelling figure in the squad, and just about the best human around. He’s such a smart defender.
  • Erik Holt — We saw this kid wrecking attackers in USL. Let’s see him do it in MLS.

Need: Another center back, maybe a youth player, maybe not. We need somebody who can take spot minutes and either develop with them, or be satisfied as a rotational player.

Want: Somebody who can step straight into the lineup if Justen Glad leaves in the summer.

Full backs

  • Aaron Herrera — such an outstanding full back, especially when he gets to play on his favored right side. Herrera’s one for the future, but he’s also one for the present.

Need: Like, three players. Seriously. I suspect Donny Toia will return; that seems like the right decision. We then need two more full backs, in my book.

Want: Somebody who’s pushing Herrera to keep that trajectory in the right direction. A multi-positional veteran.

Midfielders (7)

  • Luis Arriaga — There are still so many unknowns with this kid. He could be great. He’s not there yet.
  • Nick Besler — A solid defensive midfielder, but he’s also a reasonable backup at center back in a pinch. It’s hard to imagine him in a consistent starting role, but you never know.
  • Damir Kreilach — He’s hard not to love, right? Damir Kreilach remains a brilliant player when he’s at his best, and a reliable player when he’s below that level. He’s captain material.
  • Everton Luiz — So glad we’ve got Everton Luiz around next year, because frankly, we need him. He should be a full-time starter next year.
  • Justin Portillo — He’s certainly a depth option, but you need those players, especially when they’re affordable.
  • Pablo Ruiz — I’ve got questions about Ruiz. I wouldn’t mind him coming back for another stint, especially if it’s not under Petke, where I think he was significantly misused. If he leaves, I understand that, too.
  • Albert Rusnák — Yeah, you can’t really just cut Rusnak, can you?

Need: 1) To know if Kyle Beckerman is returning. He’s a real “ride into the sunset” guy, isn’t he? I can see him just up and leaving us. 2) To know if Kelyn Rowe is returning. He’s an interesting player we haven’t seen much from yet.

Want: A next-level midfielder who can push RSL into the future — somebody who can play both sides of the ball well and complement Luiz and Kreilach.

Forwards (8)

  • Corey Baird — He’s on the up and up, but how far can he go? I bet he could be a great player here for many years to come. But is he starting material quite yet?
  • Maikel Chang — I’m excited to see what Chang brings to this squad. While I suspect he’s a depth player, could he start pushing for minutes early on, especially after a massive season?
  • Sam Johnson — If we’re going to keep Sam Johnson around, we absolutely have to figure out a system that supports him. Otherwise, he’s just a money pit on the bench, and that doesn’t serve anybody.
  • Brooks Lennon — I’m just glad to see him here and not in the defenders section.
  • Douglas Martinez — Young, talented, and plenty of room to grow. Martinez is an awesome player to have on the bench, and with some luck and progression, he could be an awesome player to have starting.
  • Jefferson Savarino — Savarino’s the best. Like, really.
  • Tate Schmitt — He’s still somewhat of an unknown for me. Will he play on the wing? Up front? In the midfield?
  • Julian Vazquez — Another talented youngster with potential. Here’s hoping we don’t let it go to waste.

Need: Consistency. Sam Johnson receiving regular minutes, not spot minutes at the end of a game.

Want: A top-tier forward that will dominate the attack. A winger who will make that left-sided spot all their own.