So the talk after last season for Real Salt Lake was the need to get cheaper (a million over the salary cap) get faster (something lacked since the departure of Robbie Findley) and to get younger (RSL had 9 players 29 or older in 2012), and how do we score goals in the big matches, so how did RSL do in the off season?
RSL traded Jamison Olave (expensive – $250K, old – 32, but very fast) and Fabian Espindola (not expensive – $125K but I believe was due a large raise for 2013, not so old – 27, and not fast but quick and very high energy) to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for a large chunk of allocation money. Then RSL traded Will Johnson to the Portland Timbers (expensive – $245K, young – 25, and like Fabi not fast but quick and very high energy) for allocation money. RSL also released a number of players like Kyle Reynish (expensive for a limited role back up GK – $75K & due a raise, age – 29, speed doesn’t matter much for GK’s), the team also released 3 strikers (Justin Braun, Paulo Jr. and Emiliano Bonfigli) all who were under 25, cheap, and varying speed.
So the team was able to get under the cap with the trades and releases, picked up some much needed allocation money to help with other player moves. The team got quicker for sure by bringing back Robbie Findley and then signing Joao Plata, two guys who will be among the quickest in MLS, along with some guys like Lovell Palmer, Cole Grossman, both who again aren’t known as fast players but are quick. The team still has 7 players age 29 or over (Javier Morales, Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Kyle Beckerman, Alvaro Saborio, and Ned Grabavoy) and all of them would be probably first XI players for the team, so the getting younger part didn’t really happen. RSL’s average age is now just days under 25 years old, we do have 6 guys 21 or under on the roster but a few may not make it out of camp, still you can see the starting stages of building another team that might be together for a long run. Last year RSL set a MLS record for longevity with 10 players who had been with the club at least 5 seasons:
|Kyle Reynish||Jan. 2007||7|
|Nick Rimando||Feb. 2007||174|
|Chris Wingert||June, 2007||152|
|Kyle Beckerman||July, 2007||150|
|Javier Morales||August, 2007||127|
|Fabian Espindola||August, 2007||124|
|Tony Beltran||Jan. 2008||109|
|Nat Borchers||Feb. 2008||145|
|Jamison Olave||March, 2008||120|
|Will Johnson||July, 2008||113|
Of that list 4 are no longer with the club, so can RSL start the rebuilding with some of the younger players they picked up in recent years, Chris Schuler, Sebastian Velasquez, Luis Gil, Enzo Martinez, and others. I have to believe that will depend on what happens with future CBA talks and the MLS salary cap, it is harder and harder to keep a team together.
So while the start of the season is now less than a month away, for Real Salt Lake the answer to the questions left at the end of last year, are a yes we are now under the cap, yes we are faster, and maybe we are younger. The question of have we found our big goal scorer is yet to be seen, but if you remember back a few years Robbie Findley scored a good number of goals that were mighty important for RSL, none more than his goal in the 2009 MLS Cup.
That’s How I See It