Real Salt Lake roster might not look the same next season
Sandy • It didn't take long.
Two questions into his final post-game press conference of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis was asked about the club's future.
After a 1-0 playoff loss to Seattle on Thursday night, a reporter wondered if the club faced the "end of an era," considering a potential roster overhaul that could lay ahead.
"We'll see," Kreis said.
For all professional teams, year-to-year roster changes are inevitable an accepted part of the big-money sports and entertainment business.
For RSL, the likelihood increased after a late five-match scoreless streak ended with 180 minutes of frustration in the two-game aggregate series against Seattle.
The lack of a productive attack was a major reason Real Salt Lake's failed to reach two stated goals this season advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and contending for the MLS Cup.
Combined with playoff failures in 2010 and 2011, charges could be on the way.
"If we can't get it done with this team, we'll have to tweak some things," general manager Garth Lagerwey told The Salt Lake Tribune in August.
As Real Salt Lake moves forward, it could be without aging, high-priced veterans like defender Jamison Olave and midfielder Javier Morales.
Olave, 31, struggled the final three months of the season with hamstring issues.
Morales turns 33 in January and his production has dipped since suffering a horrific ankle injury early in the 2011 season.
If Lagerway believes young players like midfielder Luis Gil, midfielder Sebastian Velasquez and forward Paulo Jr. are ready for increased roles, changes are even more likely.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando, however, will almost certainly return.
His contract runs through next season and he has become one of Utah's most respected athletes a fan favorite whose performance on the field matches his popularity.
Rimando, 33, would like to see RSL's roster remain intact. But he knows it might not happen.
"I'm happy with these guys," he said. "I'm happy with this team. There is something special here and I think we're only going to grow. ...
"But [change] is part of this sport. It's part of every sport. It's a business and guys understand it. If there is change, we hope it's for the better."
Rimando wonders if the ongoing speculation about pending roster moves impacted some of his teammates in the late stages of the season.
"That's the pressure that's been on us for awhile," he said. "It went out to the public that we're going to make changes. ...
"The pressure of that, I don't know. Maybe some people rise to it and maybe some people don't and they feel the pressure on the field."
Rimando stopped and glanced down.
"All I know is there aren't any changes yet," he said. "But if they want to make changes, that's up to them."
Teammate Kyle Beckerman echoed Rimando's sentiments, only a little more harshly.
Asked about the possibility of management turning over the roster, he shrugged.
"I think that's normal stuff," Beckerman said. "But for it to get out to you [media] guys, that's a little out of character. ...
"That stuff should stay in-house. It's just foolish. I'm sure every team looks at their [roster] at the end of the year. We're just the only one that talks about it."
No matter what happens during the offseason, Beckerman vowed, "RSL will be back and our team be stronger next year."