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Real Salt Lake: Earning playing time a tough road for draft pick

Published January 15, 2014 11:08 pm

Major League Soccer • Team already has 26 players under contract for next season.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Garth Lagerwey has read all the draft projections saying Real Salt Lake has needs here or there.

But it sure doesn't look like RSL has many, if any, ahead of Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Philadelphia. The defending Western Conference champs, who came within a penalty kick of the 2013 MLS Cup crown, enter this year's draft with 26 players already on the books.

That's a number which is unprecedented in the club's previous nine seasons.

So what should the No. 18 pick in Thursday's first round of the SuperDraft expect should he have a Claret-and-Cobalt scarf draped around his neck? Simple: The kid's a long shot.

"I don't think we've ever cut a first-round pick," said Lagerwey, RSL's general manager, "but I would say that that could be in play."

RSL is in a position most clubs would like to be in, having sustained significant success in 2013 — albeit coming up a bit short — and having been able to retain the majority of its roster that qualified for two Cup finals and won the West.

However, attacking this draft will be different for Lagerwey and the front office. This will be the club's first SuperDraft without Jason Kreis as coach since 2007. Former first-assistant Jeff Cassar will experience his first draft as coach, which Lagerwey said played a large role in retaining much of the last year's club.

"We wanted to try to preserve as many options as possible for Jeff, so he can go into preseason and make his decisions and we can react off of those," he said.

But that doesn't mean RSL isn't searching for a diamond in the rough at No. 18.

"We won't have a choice but to take the best player available and hope they'll make our team better," Lagerwey said.

In a sense, RSL already has its star draft pick in Jordan Allen, a product of the team's Arizona academy who signed a contract with the club Dec. 31. Allen, who starred with the University of Virginia last fall, is considered one of the best up-and-coming U.S. prospects and can be developed as a defender, midfielder or forward.

"We would have had no chance of getting [Allen] at 18," Lagerwey said. "We got our pick already."

Which will make the task for the 18th pick — and whomever RSL picks with their third- and fourth-round selections next Tuesday — that much more difficult to crack the squad. Lagerwey said the club will enter its preseason two-deep at every position later this month in Casa Grande, Ariz. —

2014 MLS SuperDraft

Thursday in Philadelphia

Start • Thursday, 10 a.m. MDT

TV • ESPNNEWS

2014 picks • 18 (1st round), 53 (third round), 70 (fourth round)

Previous first-round picks

Year • Player, School, Position

2013 • John Stertzer, Maryland, MF

2012 • Enzo Martinez, North Carolina, MF

2011 • Traded No. 14 to Chivas USA for allocation money

2010 • Collen Warner, University of Portland, MF

2009 • Jean Alexandre, Lynn University, MF

2008 • Tony Beltran, UCLA, D

2007 • Chris Seitz, Maryland, GK

2006 • Mehdi Ballouchy, Santa Clara, MF

2005 • Nikolas Besagno, Generation Adidas, MF