Real Salt Lake general manager Elliot Fall must be in a hard spot right now. Without clarity on the ownership front, it is hard to really know what moves he will be able to make regarding the 2021 roster.
What we do know is that after the exit interviews last week, we at least know a few things.
Let’s get it out of the way: Nedum Onuoha is retiring and will not be back. It hurts, yes. He will be missed, his poise, leadership, style of play, all of it. OK, now that our tissues are wet let’s move on to who is already under contract.
Zac MacMath, Aaron Herrera, Ashtone Morgan, Noah Powder, Marcelo Silva, Donny Toia, Nick Besler, Bode Davis, Damir Kreilach, Pablo Ruiz, Albert Rusnak, Corey Baird, Andrew Brody, Chris Garcia, Milan Iloski, Justin Meram, and Jeizon Ramirez are already under contract. Some of these are key players and some did not contribute much to the team in 2020.
Of these players, Ashtone Morgan, Noah Powder, Bode Davis, Milan Iloski, Andrew Brody, Chris Garcia (OK, one minute) didn’t see the pitch. Jeizon Ramierez (80 min) played a little more but had little impact as well, even though we got a few glimpses of what might be, down the road with him. Powder, Davis and Brody were all players signed for the 2021 season.
Alvin Jones, Luis Arriaga, Giuseppe Rossi, and Julian Vazquez all had their options declined. Now, none of these are big surprises. Rossi only played 172 minutes, and a lot of the season he was injured. It was always a gamble picking him up in the off season as far as whether he would stay healthy.
Luis Arriaga, Alvin Jones, and Julian Vazquez did not play a single minute. So, no surprise on them not coming back. They may still structure some sort of contract, but it is unlikely. None of them seemed to be able to break into the starting lineup or find playing time.
Maikel Chang, David Ochoa, Justin Glad, Erik Holt, Everton Luiz, Justin Portillo, Douglas Martinez, and Tate Schmitt all had their options picked up. Erik Holt makes sense with the retirement of Nedum Onuoha, although with what we saw in his 383 minutes of playing time this season, let’s hope he takes a big step forward in his playing.
Everton Luiz makes sense as well, as when he is on, he is really on and can shut down anyone, although we saw lapses in play this season, and let’s hope that is not a trend in 2021. Justin Glad and Ochoa are no brainers coming back.
What is interesting here is Maikel Chang. He really stood out as a highlight of the season. He was poised and led the team in assists. In fact, the team did not really lose much when Albert Rusnak was not on the pitch, and that is saying something. Let’s hope he continues to take the next step in his development in 2021.
Tate Schmitt did little, and with all the attacking options, and the need to bring in someone who can consistently score, this one seems like an interesting option to pick up. In 254 minutes of playing time he had a grand total of one shot and it wasn’t even on frame. Tate make be a solid option for Real Salt Lake as a left back. It is interesting to note that Tate has ‘defender’ for Real Salt Lake on his LinkedIn profile. He has played other positions, including midfield for the Real Monarchs, so we shall see. (Insert fear about another Brooks Lennon situation)
Douglas Martinez had moments where it really seemed like he could contribute to the scoring for the team, and then had stretches where he disappeared. He did have 837 minutes, and scored twice, but he never really seemed as much of a threat in MLS as he did when he was on the Real Monarchs. He has a lot of potential and 2021 may be a breakout season for him.
Now, the other big news is that Kyle Beckerman is out of contract. Elliot Fall did mention that they want Kyle to be part of the club for a long time to come, however, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be on the field, the sideline, or front office next season, it can be assumed that he will be back in some capacity next season.
Elliot Fall on Kyle Beckerman's future:— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) November 30, 2020
"Kyle is a legend. Kyle is real salt lake. We want Kyle to be apart of this club for a long time to come. What capacity that is in… we have to continue to have that dialogue."
No timeline on a decision.
It is likely that Andrew Putna will be back as well, and a new contract will most likely be forth coming. Fan favorite Luke Mulholland is most likely done suiting up for Real Salt Lake. He has spent 100 minutes total for the first team on the pitch in the last 3 seasons and there just doesn’t seem much in the way of a reason to bring him back.
So, how will the roster shape up in 2021? That is something that will likely depend on the new owner. So, as for now, Real Salt Lake will most likely have a solid roster that is fairly similar to 2020. Were they as competitive as fans wanted them to be? No. Can 2021 be different? Well, just like the ownership question, the answer is pending.