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Five players who will be fighting for minutes — and contracts

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The collective wrath of Mike Petke and Craig Waibel will be felt.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

We’re all wondering the same thing, I think.

RSL coach Mike Petke called out some of his players as either not listening or not capable in his last post-match press conference. Those are strong words, but they didn’t give us that vital bit of detail: Who’s going to be fighting?

Some of these players are fighting for starting minutes. Some will be fighting for the chance to stay in Salt Lake come July. Some will be fighting for an MLS contract. Let’s talk about it.

Aaron Maund

You know, this pains me a little bit. Aaron Maund really came out of the woodwork in 2015 as one of the few bright spots in a very poor season. In 2016, he won a starting spot before injury claimed him from August forward. In 2017, he’s perhaps shown that injuries have put him in a difficult position at Real Salt Lake.

I’m certainly not trying to pin everything on Maund, though. He’s been poor, but has he been more poor than the players around him? I don’t think so. But with RSL general manager Craig Waibel saying the club could well be signing a defensive player in the coming transfer window, will Maund find minutes hard to come by — or will he find himself at another club?

Chris Schuler

He’s one of the real success stories of Real Monarchs after recovering from long-term injuries there and getting back to form, but Chris Schuler might find himself with limited minutes in short order once Justen Glad steps back into the lineup.

It’s already difficult for RSL, given Schuler generally sits out any game on turf to protect his feet. If Glad recovers as well as it seems he must have, given his performances for the U.S. U-20s, it’s pretty clear whose spot he’ll be taking. Sure, maybe Glad and Schuler are paired together, but if we sign a player in the international transfer window in July, I bet it’s going to displace the big man.

Joao Plata

Once the most exciting player in an RSL shirt, Plata’s become one of the more controversial figures. He sparred with Mike Petke when the new coach came in, and he’s not always pulling his weight — or any weight — defensively.

Throw in some interest from Liga MX sides and we might just no longer see Plata playing in the Claret and Cobalt come July. It’s hard to say what that means for our squad, given he’s been an important figure, but that sort of upheaval might be just what we need.

And sure, Plata’s scored twice in recent weeks, and he’s playing regular minutes, but something feels amiss here — especially when Mike Petke’s calling out players who might not have the best work ethic. We’ve already seen that from Plata in 2017.

Omar Holness

There’s a little bit of cruelty involved any time you blast a player after they score their first league goal, but we have to set feelings aside for a moment. Omar Holness hasn’t exactly been lighting the world up with his performances, and he’ll be tasked with some difficulties come the end of the year. If he graduates from the Generation Adidas program — and that seems likely — he’ll be hitting the full salary budget of Real Salt Lake.

Don’t be surprised if he’s on the chopping block at the end of the year, or if he negotiates a much smaller salary. His $110,000 salary will put him on the senior roster, and it’s very hard to stay there when a realistic estimate puts you around 500 minutes in 2017.

Yura Movsisyan

Let’s be clear about this: I’m not advocating that Yura Movsisyan should be traded. I actually don’t think you can blame him more than anyone else for RSL’s woes, and I think blaming a player for not scoring when your team can’t go ten minutes without conceding a goal is at least a little hasty.

But I do think that Movsisyan hasn’t shown particularly well, and he’s cut an extremely frustrated figure when he starts. The gesticulating at his teammates isn’t handing him any better chances, and he’s twice started a match and been substituted at the 45th minute mark. Mike Petke is clearly unhappy with him, and that’ll be make it difficult for him to earn regular minutes.

Whatever the case, I’d be extremely surprised to see Movsisyan traded, sold or cut in 2017.