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The Salt: Parsing RSL’s additions and roster changes

Bobby Wood. Jony Menendez. Toni Datkovic. With three big additions, how will RSL adjust their roster?

Hamburger SV v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 - Second Bundesliga Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images

It’s been a weird week. RSL announced the signings of Jony Menendez and Toni Datkovic, and we also learned that Albert Rusnak was being left off Slovakia’s EURO 2020 roster.

If it seems hard to keep up, you’re not alone.

If it seems like the timing’s a little unusual — you’re not alone in that, either. (I’m sure the club was prepping a Datkovic release, but it’s always interesting when good — great, even — news follows something that will hurt a player’s morale.

Anyway, I’m left with questions. Let’s dive in.

International spots

Both Menendez and Datkovic will take up international slots — that much is certain. Bobby Wood will not. But Real Salt Lake currently has seven rostered international players. What’s going on there? Well, let’s look at the list.

  • Anderson Julio — this designation won’t be changing any time soon (if he sticks around long-term, I bet it’ll be at least a year, if not two, before he’s eligible for a green card. Importantly, though, I’m not an immigration lawyer.)
  • Everton Luiz — I could see a world where he gets a green card. He’s in his third season at the club.
  • Douglas Martinez — He’s been with the organization since 2019; like Luiz, I could see a world where he gets a green card.
  • Ashtone Morgan — I’m always surprised when Canadian players are counted as international players. I really kind of don’t like that, actually, given the league actually operates in Canada, too. Anyway, I don’t know, I don’t think he’s on his way out or anything, but you never know.
  • Jeizon Ramirez — Huh. I dunno.
  • Pablo Ruiz — Like Luiz and Martinez, I think there’s probably a chance for a green card here.
  • Marcelo Silva — I actually thought I remembered that he was close to getting his green card back in 2020. I could be wrong. He’s my top pick for picking one of those up, and his roster designation would change as a result.

So hopefully that clears things up on the international spots front. There’s plenty we don’t know, but there’s also reason to think that things are being resolved, or that they’ve already been resolved. MLS doesn’t always provide a whole lot of clarity on that front.

Roster spots

Well, this is where things get a little more interesting. These new additions will almost certainly make the senior roster, which — well, it seems feasible, but let’s get into why I’m confused about things.

See, MLS has decided to offer more clarity on roster spots, and in doing so, they’ve actually created some confusion. Let’s go to the tape. Or the webpage, I dunno.

RSL has just 16 of 20 possible players listed on the senior roster. Following? Alright.

They also have six of four possible players listed on the supplemental roster spots 21–24. Wait, what? OK. The club also has five of four possible players listed on the supplemental roster spots 25–28. Finally, we have two of two possible players listed in the supplement slots 29–30, which are reserved for homegrown players. That’s good at least.

So, now that you’re thoroughly confused, you’ll see that we has 29 of 30 slots used up, which means we’re good for another player. Even if two of those 21–24 players should be on the senior roster, I think we’ve got room.

Still, MLS is particularly obscure with roster designations, and even if they’ve improved in the last two years, it’s not like things are suddenly transparent.

But, wait! The MLS page doesn’t actually have Bobby Wood listed. He’s definitely a senior player, so let’s say we’re now at 19 of 20 spots there. It actually leaves two players on the roster needing to be cut. I won’t pretend to know which spots should be cut, but let’s talk about the players who might find themselves on their way out of the club — or at least on a season-long loan to Real Monarchs.

Cuts & Loans

Let’s first focus on players who could be cut, for one reason or another.

  • Ashtone Morgan — the left back seems surplus to requirements, but he was also brought back after the weird international and COVID-related mishaps (none of which were his fault) of 2020. I’d keep him, but I think he’s slightly on the bubble.
  • Douglas Martinez — I actually think this is a stretch, but Martinez could be an option for a cut. He’s not being used frequently — even when we’re chasing games. I think I’d keep him around, personally.
  • Jeizon Ramirez — Is it time to call the Jeizon Ramirez experiment a dud? I think it might be. If we’re not going to even play him at the Real Monarchs level, and he’s a young designated player? It’s not great. That said, I bet he’s on a guaranteed contract, and there’s no way we’re paying out to terminate it, so, uh, yeah. I don’t think it’ll happen. Maybe we can loan him out?
  • Tate Schmitt — He’s not played this season, and he didn’t play all that much last year. It seems clear that there’s not a lot of faith in him. Maybe he could go on loan to Real Monarchs, or maybe he’ll leave the club.
  • Milan Iloski — It sure doesn’t seem like he’s going to play for this club. Is that bad? I don’t know if he’s a good enough player for this team, because he’s consistently on the bench. He’s played two matches for Real Monarchs in recent weeks, so maybe there’s hope that he could be good. I don’t know. I could actually see a season-long loan for him to Real Monarchs.
  • Chris Garcia — I could see him going on a season-long loan to Real Monarchs. That might even make sense for him, as he’s likely to play there anyway.
  • Noah Powder — I actually thought Powder could have a break-out year in 2021, but he’s sort of behind three left backs now: Donny Toia, Andrew Brody and Ashtone Morgan.

These could all be wrong. We could see something unexpected. Stranger things have happened, and stranger things will happen at some point. I just don’t think there’s value in me proposing extremely weird trades, loans and transfers.

Final thoughts

I don’t really have any final thoughts. I’m feeling pretty lost, honestly. I look forward to things resolving, but MLS sometimes takes a fair bit of time to update their roster page. Really, I’m just pleased we have some new blood in the team. Good job, Mr. Fall.