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What’s next for RSL after Adam Henley leaves, opens senior roster spot?

It’s a time of change for Real Salt Lake.

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

Adam Henley left Real Salt Lake last week, as reports stated, but in reality, he’s been a non-contender at the club for so long, we don’t have much to contemplate with his departure.

Before we get into the analysis, let’s take a look at a quote from RSL general manager Craig Waibel:

“We want to thank Adam for his time with the club and wish him the best in his next opportunity. This move is mutually beneficial as it allows Adam the opportunity to openly seek out a club where he might find more playing time to continue his development and also allows us the roster flexibility to potentially make additions to the squad in the summer.”

And there we have it. It’s certainly a good move in that it gives Henley the opportunity to play elsewhere — he wasn’t getting that here, for better or worse — and it does open up some roster space.

What sort of space, though? Let’s take a stab in the dark.

Adam Henley occupies a senior roster spot, which gives RSL flexibility in one of two ways:

  • RSL could leave a senior roster spot unfilled. Spots 19 and 20, if unfilled, can allow the team to spread out the salary budget impact for the senior roster over fewer players (18 or 19 players instead of the full 20).
  • RSL could sign a player to the senior roster. They, in fact, could already do this, given there are only 19 players there, but this would provide that extra little bit of flexibility. They might also have the flexibility to offer a new contract to a player on the reserve or supplemental roster.

What will they do? Well, rumors are flying, so let’s take this a step further and consider Joao Plata’s departure. He also occupies one of those senior roster spots, and there is no incentive for RSL to leave three spots unfilled. I think that assures us that we’ll sign at least one player to the senior roster, whether internally filled or externally filled.

What sort of player might RSL sign, then? Unless we lose another player on top of those two, I don’t think we’ll sign a true first team player — somebody. Could it happen? Of course. I’m not prescient. But I wouldn’t count on it, at this point.

I do think we’ll sign a rotational player, though. Somebody who would come in and challenge for minutes, but wouldn’t come in with the immediate expectation of minutes.

In fact, as I look at the roster, I’m left with a few questions:

  • Pablo Ruiz is a senior roster player, and his impact in 2019 has been non-existent. That could certainly change, but he’s not even consistently making the bench. Is his senior roster designation the best use?
  • Corey Baird is a reserve roster player, which makes sense as a homegrown player. But I’d wager that his next contract will take him well outside that range, and we may look to do that sooner rather than later.
  • Alex Horwath is a senior roster player, which is inevitable given his age, but he’s only just made his way to the bench — this is less an issue for me.

So what happens? I’m left with more questions than answers. We’ll see.