So we are 40 days from RSL’s first action of the year, their Feb 24th Champions League match at Tigres. So with the first 2 rounds of the MLS draft done, lets take an updated look at the RSL roster as it sits:
Goalkeeper – The position RSL has the best depth has to be keeper
- Nick Rimando – RSL keeps one of the best keepers in MLS history in goal and should the defense in front of him improve from last year we should see another great year from Nick.
- Jeff Attinella – I expect there are probably a few teams who would be happy to have Jeff as their number one keeper, so RSL is lucky to have him as our number two. When called on, Jeff has provided a very solid replacement for Nick and with the season starting so soon, I expect Jeff will see plenty of action in 2016.
- Lalo Fernandez – The academy project spent most of 2015 with the Monarchs with 18 appearances, I expect those minutes will probably be similar in 2016 as he continues to progress as a keeper. Holding onto him as his development continues will be a challenge for RSL.
I think RSL probably has the best or one of the top 2 or 3 keeper combos in all of MLS, this is an area of real strength heading into 2016.
Forwards – To say that the pressure is on RSL to get more productivity out of their forwards has to be the biggest understatement of the 2016 preseason.
- Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez – While he was only with the club for a few months in 2015, I think all fans are excited by what we believe he will be able to provide. Clearly a player to watch in 2016 in MLS not just RSL.
- Joao Plata – Injuries ruined what should have been a huge year for Joao, who exploded to new levels in 2014 with 13 goals. He had just 4 goals in 19 appearances, now with more time to gain fitness and sharpness we should expect a return to his 2014 style and productivity.
Forwards – con’t
- Sebastian Jamie – Things have simply not clicked with Sebastian at RSL, I am not sure if it is the system, the league, or what but 5 goals in 20 matches is not what one expects from a DP forward. Rumors have him going on loan for at least the first half of the MLS season, maybe he can find the form that has been missing.
- Olmes Garcia – I am not ready to give up on Olmes just yet, he is only 23 and this will be his 4th season with RSL. He is fast, aggressive but that final touch has been lacking, this has to be the year he goes from potential to player.
- Devon Sandoval – The departure of Sabo in the final stages of the 2015 season saw Devon get more minutes, 3 of his 4 goals came in the last 7 RSL matches of the season. Can he build on that end of the year form and fight a bigger role in 2016, or will he be the guy RSL turns to at the end of matches to bring a spark off the bench?
- *Yura Movsisyan – So everything I have heard from sources I trust is that Yura has been signed and will be announced very soon. Yura left RSL as a player with a lot of talent and potential, he has shown that everywhere he has played in Europe. His numbers while playing in the Russian Premier Liga are great, 48 goals in 112 matches and you can add in 10 goals in 31 matches for his national team Armenia. What I think Yura brings to RSL is a willingness to take shots and put the ball in play in the area, my example is simple in 2009 he played 1731 minutes and took 64 shots with 29 being on goal (scored 8). In 2015 our top shot taker was Javier Morales with 50 shots with 20 on goal (scored 8) in 2142 minutes.
It is up top where RSL could see the most improvement in 2016, a healthy Joao Plata returning to action, “Burrito” getting a preseason with the team, and the addition of Yura, these things should help RSL go from just 38 goals scored in 2015 to something closer to the mid 50s.
So the area of most stability on the RSL roster to the one where we should and could see the most improvement. These players make up 8 – 9 of the RSL roster spots, the rest of the roster is defenders and midfielders, whom we will take a look at in Part II of my look at the RSL roster.
That’s How I See It