So the RSL season is about to begin so let’s take a quick look at what has transpired between the end of the 2016 season and now, and how much hype those things bring to the 2017 season.
I am going to use a scale of -10 to +10 to rate the major events of the off season and what I believe their impact will be on the 2017 season
- Javier Morales leaves – I doubt we will ever know what really happened at the end of the 2016 season, but clearly the departure of Javier Morales will impact RSL going forward both on and off the field. I took about a week after the 3-1 playoff loss at LA for this one to hit and its about as negative as hype can get, gotta go with a -10 on this one.
- Jeff Cassar staying – RSL fans were up in arms over Javi’s departure and a end of the 2016 season that saw RSL win just 4 of their final 19 matches and no wins in Sept or Oct. So the news in early Nov of Jeff’s contract being extended for 2017 wasn’t exactly received with positive hype, this one gets a -5
- Burrito is gone – Another case that we may never really know what happened but between a nagging injury, issues at home, and who knows what else Juan Manuel Martinez was dealing with but clearly he had checked out by mid season and by the end of the season it was clear things had gone very wrong. His release was a not a surprise but it sure wasn’t what any of us wanted, but clearly what he wanted. His creative abilities on the field will be missed, I give this one a -7 on the Hype Meter.
- Saucedo returns and Hernandez signs – Sebastian didn’t feature much for Veracruz during his loan there, but he did score his first professional goal and gain a lot of professional experience. Jose Hernandez probably would have been a top 10 draft pick, but instead he signed a HGP contract with RSL. Both of these players have shown glimpses of why this creates some positive hype for RSL this preseason, for me it may not be 2017 that they shine but both have the potential to do so. For me this gets a +5 on the Hype Meter
- Mike Petke becomes Monarchs head coach – If you don’t think the future of RSL runs thru the Monarchs you are missing the big picture. If you don’t think this move strengthens the RSL overall staff for the future you are missing the big picture. Like #4 this one may not payoff much in 2017 but it will payoff in the long run, I give this another +5.
- Albert Rusnak – Rumors started soon after the departure of Javi and Burrito, who could RSL get to replace that creative force? Well RSL found former Man City academy player Rusnak playing in the Netherlands and at age 22 he signed as a Young DP. His touch and pace have looked impressive in the preseason, how quickly will he pay results for RSL remains to be seen but this move gets a +10 from me.
- Landon Donovan rumors – for weeks there were rumblings that RSL were pursing Landon, a move that created a huge amount of controversy with RSL fans. Some loved bringing in a guy of the skill and name recognition of Donovan, others worried he was too old or only looking for a paycheck. So far nothing has developed but this one had huge hype for a few weeks and went from a +10 to a 0 as it seems dead.
- The Draft – RSL hasn’t exactly flurished with their draft picks, guys have played a role but the only long term success has been Tony Beltran, so am I expecting much from Reagan Dunk or Justin Schmidt of course not. Now the reality is several RSL draft picks have done well at other places, Collen Warner and David Horst are two good examples. It can take time for draft picks to develop and with the advent of the Monarchs maybe we will see these guys make an impact one day, but for 2017 they are a 0 on the Hype Meter.
- Barrett, Horst and Silva – RSL has a very good crop of young players so bringing in some veteran guys is a great move. For me the return of David Horst is perhaps the most impactful of the moves, he may not be the fastest CB in the league but reality is he started 83 matches over the last 3 seasons. Luis Silva returns after playing in Mexico last year, I am still not sold on Silva but he provides some experience on the offensive side of the ball in the midfield. Then there is Chad Barrett, a journeyman by every definition but a guy who provides some depth up top and still knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. This trio may not be sexy, but they give us depth and experience so for that I give them a +6.
- Lennon arrives – I have to say that when the rumors of this started in some circles as soon as the RSL season was over last year, I doubted it would happen but as time went along this started to align more and more. Folks Brooks Lennon is still a young man, but if you can’t get excited about his loan to RSL for this season, well you better buckle up because this young man is exciting and talented. For me he gets a solid +8 on my Hype Meter for 2017, he is going to push for minutes and deliver goals this year for RSL.
So a lot of changes in the RSL roster, some changes on the coaching staff, and clearly the youth movement for RSL is fully underway and I am way excited for it. I am not sure what 2017 holds for RSL but given the 10 things I mentioned above I am going to give RSL a +6 on the Hype Meter heading into the regular season in less than two weeks.
That’s How I See It