Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Real Salt Lake retains its core — but everybody else is new

Team opens preseason practice with new depth and a few questions.

First Published Jan 26 2012 05:25 pm • Last Updated Apr 05 2012 11:39 pm

Most of the core players that Real Salt Lake has sought to keep together in recent years were still around when the team opened preseason training Thursday for its eighth season in Major League Soccer.

It’s just everybody else that was new.

Photos
At a glance

RSL roster

Out

MF » Andy Williams

MF » Jean Alexandre

MF » Collen Warner

MF » Arturo Alvarez

MF » Nelson Gonzalez

D » Blake Wagner

D » Robbie Russell

D » Rauwshan McKenzie

GK » Tim Melia

In

F » Emiliano Bonfigli

F » Oliver Kupe*

MF » Enzo Martinez

MF » Benjamin Ubiera

MF » Sebastian Velasquez

MF » Wes Knight

MF » Lewis Neal

D » Diogo de Almeida

D » Samir Bengelloun

D » Leone Cruz

D » Jonny Steele

D » Terukazu Tanaka

GK » Lalo Fernandez

* Will join team after he finishes college

RSL key dates

March 10 » Season opener at Los Angeles Galaxy

March 17 » Home opener vs. New York Red Bulls

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

For the first time in a long time, RSL will open a season with a drastically renovated roster — even if the changes are almost all among the reserves. And that leaves a lot of questions for a team that still hasn’t enjoyed the ultimate payoff for its long admired philosophy, beyond the 2009 MLS Cup.

"It’s going to be different," coach Jason Kreis said. "There’s no doubt about it."

Nine of the 27 players who took the field for RSL last season are gone. In their place? Six draft picks and six trialists — in addition to a new emergency goalkeeper — hoping to earn a place on a team that hasn’t changed its goals despite the roster turnover.

"Expectations are always the same," midfielder Will Johnson said. "We still have a heck of a lot of good players here. We want to compete for a championship. We want to do well in the Champions League again. Anything less than being an elite team in this league would be a bitter, bitter disappointment."

That’s a good description of the way last season ended, come to think of it.

The team lost to the rival Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Western Conference final, after a regular season wracked by injuries to many of their best players. That problem hasn’t disappeared, either, with five starters sitting out the camp-opening fitness tests on Thursday.

Forward Alvaro Saborio and defender Nat Borchers could miss the start of the season, Kreis said, while recovering from offseason surgeries, though Johnson and fellow midfielder Kyle Beckerman should be back from muscle strains in the next couple of weeks, with plenty of time before the season opener at Los Angeles on March 10.

"You never want to start off a season with five or six guys who are having to rest," Kreis said, "but I also know that it’s an extremely long season and an extremely long preseason. We still have six weeks in front of us before our first match."


story continues below
story continues below

Midfielder Javier Morales is expected back in about a week, too, after having surgery to remove bone spurs in the same ankle he had shattered by a horrible tackle last season. They had bothered him for years — long before his devastating injury — and their removal has coaches hoping the 32-year-old playmaker is better than ever.

"I’m ready to go," he said.

So is defender Jamison Olave, slowed at the end of last season with a quadriceps injury. The hulking Colombian declared himself fully fit, while forward Fabian Espindola expressed relief that RSL picked up a two-year option on his contract that will keep him with the club through 2013.

"I’m happy, now," he said.

Among the nine players departed since last season, veteran midfielder Andy Williams retired to join the coaching staff, midfielder Collen Warner was lost in an expansion draft to stock the Montreal Impact, and defender Robbie Russell was traded to DC United.

That leaves coaches searching especially for depth in the midfield and another outside back to replace Russell in a rotation with Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert.

Kreis hopes they have it, among all those new guys.

"We feel like we probably have a stronger group from the bottom up than we’ve had in years past," Kreis said, "and we’re certainly going to need it."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.