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The Salt: Same as it ever was at 2021 mid-point

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It’s been quite a year.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

After a few Real Salt Lake matches early this year, I kept thinking to myself, “Hey! I’d love to do some analysis of this team. Still, it’s probably too soon. Maybe at the halfway point?”

And here we are. It’s the halfway point. Let’s talk RSL.

Same as it ever was

Let’s kick things off with a great song performed by one of my favorite singer-songwriters.

Now that we’ve set the scene, there are some things that haven’t really changed from the beginning of the season. Here they are — in list form!

  • Dell Loy Hansen remains somewhat the owner of the club, at least on paper. MLS is controlling the club, but he’s still an operator-investor, given the league’s single-entity structure. There’s no (public) movement there, and if there’s private movement there, I haven’t heard about it.
  • Albert Rusnak remains without a contract beyond the year, which makes sense as we don’t have anybody in place who would be willing to shell out for him as a designated player.
  • Damir Kreilach is probably our best goalscoring player.

Things change

Still, not everything is the same. Let’s go over those things, too.

  • Rubio Rubin came in and impressed, and though he’s slowed down slightly from his very hot start, it’s clear he’s a good signing. He inked a long-term deal with the club.
  • Bobby Wood joined the club, though we knew he was going to as early as January.
  • Jonathan Menendez joined, too, and though he hasn’t really got going yet, at least we have a little more depth out wide.
  • Toni Datkovic joined the club, too, but see above for Menendez. It’s a pretty similar situation.

Good Times

Here’s a list of some good things that have happened so far.

  • We won two games to start the year.
  • Rubio Rubin scored a really great goal.
  • We managed to sign players without an owner.
  • Andrew Brody broke out into a starting player, surprising everybody.
  • Albert Rusnak improved from his very poor start.

Is there more? Maybe. But let’s move on quickly.

Bad Times

  • RSL hasn’t won two consecutive games since the start of the year. In fact, the most points they’ve earned in a five-game spell is eight — that puts us in some poor company. (Of course, we’ve been consistent, earning between four and eight points in five-game spells.)
  • Rubio Rubin dried up, just like the Great Salt Lake is doing now.
  • Andrew Brody broke his toe and is still out for an indefinite amount of time.
  • Jeizon Ramirez was placed on the disabled list but was fairly quickly involved in Real Monarchs matches after being named so, giving us an extremely clear indication of his worth to the first team. (It should be noted: He’s still on the senior roster, is one of three possible “U22 Initiative” players [and the only one we have on books], and still fills an international slot.)
  • Our defensive midfield is perhaps at its weakest point, and our best player there is Nick Besler. This is nothing against Besler, but we often find ourselves needing something more.
  • We’ve seen consistent mistakes from our defense, much of which stems from poor communication. I hope Justen Glad can build that part of his game, because it’s truly the missing piece to make him a truly great center back.
  • Like Matt Doyle said in a piece yesterday, we’re still a late-subbing team. “(Juarez) subs later and less often than almost any other coach in the league.” Yeah.

Optimism?

Are there any points making me optimistic? Let’s see.

  • We might have a new owner this season, maybe.

... I think that’s it. Players will improve, impress, move, drop on the roster, all that. That’s part and parcel of the league. If we don’t see players who improve, it’ll be a disappointment. It’s not a point of optimism for me, but an expectation.

Honestly, it is hard to be optimistic about Real Salt Lake right now. Long-time readers might remember times when I was more optimistic about things — and if we’re being honest, I miss it. I miss feeling a sense of internal hope. I think we can get back there, but the thing on everyone’s mind — ownership — is sure getting in the way.