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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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Coach loves RSL's Alvarez, just needs to figure out how to use him

When Arturo Alvarez arrived in a trade following the expansion draft last month, the veteran midfielder said he was thrilled to join Real Salt Lake and eager to do whatever the coaches ask of him.

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It will be interesting to see what that turns out to be.

Coach Jason Kreis acknowledged that although he has always loved Alvarez as a player, the Salvadoran winger is not a natural fit for the style RSL plays. "It's not a home run, to be honest, in how he fits our system," Kreis said. "I think he's a home run of a player, he's got such abilities."

General manager Garth Lagerwey said last month that RSL had tried to acquire Alvarez when he was traded from FC Dallas to San Jose in 2008, but that the price of a first-round draft pick and allocation money was too high. Kreis said he was "very disappointed" that RSL couldn't make it happen then — "I've had my eye on him ever since I started coaching, actually," he said — but was pleased that the new price of a second-round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft was within the team's reach.

"I really, really like what he brings to the table," Kreis said. "But I think it's going to be a little bit of an adjustment for him to fit into our system, because I think he's a little bit more of a winger-slash-second forward and needs to have probably a little bit more of a free role. So we'll have some questions about where he'll fit in for us."

Primarily, Kreis wonders whether Alvarez can be his best in the compact, diamond formation that RSL employs in the midfield. The coach is willing to use him as a second forward, especially with Robbie Findley having left the team.

"But I'll be interested to see if he can play in our midfield, too, because I think he possesses some abilities that none of the other guys in the midfield have right now," Kreis said. "He possesses all the tools to play it like we want, and then show a bit of flair, as well. I think the biggest question, the biggest adaptation he might have to make is just his level of fitness, because what's demanded of those guys is a whole ton of running. You can just ask any of them, they'll tell you."

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