So in my RSL roster review part 1 we focused on forwards and keepers, which happen to be where the team has some great depth. Now we will take a look at the midfield where there are a lot more questions but also a lot of talent.
Midfield – with two of the games top players in their positions (Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales) you would think there would be no questions about the RSL midfield, but I have questions, lots of them.
- Javier Morales – There are few in MLS that are as good with the ball at their feet as Javi, his vision and passing are sublime as all RSL opponents know only too well. This however has lead to him being one of the most fouled players in MLS over the last several years and at age 36 it has taken it’s toll. In 2015 he played in just 24 matches, the lowest full season total in him MLS career (minus the injury year of 2011), and while he maintains a great level of fitness the league is a physical one. If we can keep Javi healthy for the 2016 campaign I think every RSL fan would rejoice, but we will for sure take what we can get because RSL is simply a much better team with him than without him.
- Kyle Beckerman – The face of the franchise, and there simply is no other player in MLS, I would rather have in the d-mid position than Kyle. His leadership, energy, skill, and passion simply make him one of a kind and we can never thank the Colorado Rapids enough for gifting him to us. His offensive production was off in 2015, 1 goal & 2 assists, down from 3 & 3 in 2014 and 4 & 6 in 2013. I expect a big portion of this was the new formation which left him often spending more time on the defensive side of things. Kyle is a leader on and off the field, he sets the tone and his leadership with a lot of roster changes will be needed in the long season ahead.
- Luke Mulholland – The 2015 formation change also impacted the offensive numbers for Luke who was down from his 6 goals & 7 assists in 2014 to just 3 & 2 in 2015. Luke brings great energy and heart to the pitch whenever he plays, which has made him a huge hit with RSL fans. Like the rest of the team 2016 will be a year where we simply need more from Luke, a full season to adjust to the new formation and his role in it should be helpful as should a good preseason with new teammates.
- Jordan Allen – I have been a fan of this young man for years and I thought he was one of a few bright spots in the 2015 season. He broke the 1,000 minute mark of action with the first team and scored his first MLS goal and picked up two assists. Questions still remain about where to play him as we saw him play on the backline, in the midfield and even up top in the 4-3-3. I expect that we will probably see more of him in the midfield in 2016, as he could be a guy to back up Javi with the departures of Luis Silva and Luis Gil.
- John Stertzer – 2016 will be his 4th year with RSL, and it is likely he will continue to see increasing minutes as the guy who fills in for Kyle Beckerman or provides some additional defensive bite in the midfield when needed. 2015 saw John get 9 starts and see action in 19 matches, he did score a goal last season in the 2-0 RSL win vs NYCFC.
- Adolfo Ovalle – the Layton native didn’t see any first team action in 2015 but played in 21 matches for the Monarchs last year, getting 2 assists with the USL side. Given the lack of depth at midfield, he could see some time with the first team in 2016.
- Sebastian Saucedo – Bofo has been loaned to Liga MX side Veracruz for their 2016 season, he could return to RSL later in the year but it is unknown at this time. He showed a lot of passion and desire in his limited first team minutes in 2015, his quick red card in the April match against Vancouver was a memorable moment but not for good reasons. A young player with a lot of upside, should be interesting to see how he does on loan.
- Omar Holness – RSL’s draft pick from North Carolina has been described by most as a box to box midfielder who had ties to RSL via Jamaica (Andy Williams, Demar Phillips and Tyrone Marshal). RSL GM, Craig Waibel had a lot of good things to say about Holness including “Physically, he’s a bit of a beast already. With his youth and size and structure, we think he fits into the physicality of MLS,”. With the lack of depth in the RSL midfield one could see Omar spending time with the first team as well as getting minutes with the Monarchs.
It is a bit frightful to me that our midfield is 5 players with any first team minutes, a local HGP and a draft pick. I have to believe that either RSL is going to be playing Juan Manuel Martinez a bit in the midfield, or that the team is still working on adding some more depth to back up Javi and Kyle for the long MLS season. I think as the change to the 4-3-3 enters its second year it looks like it could be Luke and Jordan fighting for that 3 spot in the starting roster, but I expect both will see a lot of minutes in 2016.
So we have looked at our Keepers, Forwards and now Midfielders, part 3 will be a look at the RSL defense were to be honest there are more questions than answers.
That’s How I See It