RSL wins against Everton, but may lose Adu overseas
Coach Jason Kreis watched from a suite high above the field to assess the way his newest players were getting acquainted for Real Salt Lake in its 2-0 exhibition victory over Everton of the English Premier League in front of 12,221 at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday night.
But the real drama involved the players who weren't there.
Midfielder Freddy Adu did not attend the game as expected, amid his agent's intensifying efforts to arrange a transfer for RSL's highest-profile and highest-paid player to a prominent European team - a move that could occur within days.
Sources confirmed media reports that Adu is most likely headed to Benfica in Portugal, in part because of how difficult it would be for him to obtain a work permit to play for either of the other two teams most interested in him, Celtic FC in Scotland or Tottenham Hotspur in England.
However, Adu and his agent still must work out a transfer fee with Major League Soccer - the league owns the contracts of all its players - in addition to the details of a personal contract with any potential employer. Media reports have said the league wants $7.5 million for the rights to Adu, a price that might be viewed as too steep for a player who, despite his star turn at the recent Under-20 World Cup, has done little for RSL.
Meanwhile, several of RSL's newest members played big roles against Everton.
Striker Alecko Eskandarian served a corner kick that floated just over the outstretched arm of leaping Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 28th minute, allowing midfielder Carey Talley to slam home a crisp header. And striker Robbie Findley chased down a long pass down the right side less than a minute later, blasting a shot over a helplessly diving Howard.
"That's a good result for us," Talley said.
But that doesn't mean Kreis is satisfied.
The new coach continues to pursue two Argentine players - their exact identities remain unknown - whose potential signing could force out two more existing players. RSL already has acquired seven new players since the start of the season. Three of them - midfielder Kyle Beckerman, defender Nathan Sturgis and defender Chris Wingert - made their RSL debuts against Everton, along with defender Dustin Kirby and goalkeeper Kyle Reynish.
* Coach Jason Kreis uses 22 players in RSL's exhibition win over Everton, as he experiments with his renovated roster.
* Midfielder Carey Talley and striker Robbie Findley score within a minute of one another for RSL in the first half.
* RSL's Freddy Adu does not attend the game, but is expected back for an exhibition against Boca Juniors on Tuesday.