Real Salt Lake looks close to re-signing goalkeeper Nick Rimando and RSL Academy product Brooks Lennon for the upcoming season.
“I am extremely confident that a positive outcome will be reached very soon with both Brooks and Nick,” general manager Craig Waibel told The Salt Lake Tribune via text message on Tuesday.
Rimando, an 11-year RSL veteran, entered free agency Tuesday after reaching the end of his contract. Lennon’s short-term loan from Liverpool expired at the end of the season.
Rimando, 38, hasn’t seen much of a decline in play over the years. The third-string United States National Team goalkeeper holds the all-time MLS records for minutes (40,801), saves (1,527), and wins (196).
Lennon only started 15 matches for Real Salt Lake, with Joa Plata and Jefferson Savarino proving to be a dangerous duo on the wings. However, he earned coach Mike Petke’s trust in strong outings both off the bench and in spot starts. Lennon finished the season with three goals four assists.
Real Salt Lake also appears to be making progress in talks with midfielder Kyle Beckerman. The veteran midfielder was absent from the list of free agents the league released Sunday, which likely means that RSL has made him an offer larger than the maximum salary budget charge.
Beckerman, 35, and entering his 19th season in the league, easily meets the age and years of service requirements of free agency. However, the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that if out-of-contract player made more than the max salary, his team can prevent him from entering free agency by again offering him above the max.
If the team does not offer him the max, the player can enter free agency if he agrees to a Standard Player Agreement that gives him less than the max.
Waibel declined to comment on why Beckerman was not listed as a free agent.
If RSL is able to secure Beckerman, Rimando and Lennon for next season, the team will be well on its way to a strong roster. RSL has every other regular starter under contract after exercising the options on Savarino, Luke Mulholland and Sunday Stephen this offseason. In all, RSL picked up the option on five players and declined seven.
Waibel told The Tribune that there is a possibility of the team renegotiating contracts with the players whose options it declined.
“But we currently are not in the process of revisiting any of those,” he said.
Of course, RSL could always add depth to the center midfield and sign a blockbuster striker, but the glaring hole in the lineup currently is at right back.
Veteran right back Tony Beltran, who underwent two right knee surgeries this fall, is expected to be out through late August. Demar Phillips and Chris Wingert filled in for him in the match and a half he missed at the end of the season.
RSL has re-signed Phillips, who has traditionally played left back for RSL. He was expected to compete for time with Danilo Acosta on the left side. Wingert, on the other hand, is an out-of-contract free agent. The veteran started 20 matches for RSL.
Academy product Aaron Herrera is an intriguing prospect. The University of New Mexico junior was one of five academy products called up to the United States U-20 national team for the World Cup this year. The other four all played for RSL: Lennon, Acosta, Justen Glad, and Sebastian Saucedo.
A back line with three 20-year-old players, however, likely isn’t sustainable. Should RSL sign Herrera they also will need to bring in a more experienced player to bolster the back.
As Tuesday’s expansion draft closed, leaving Real Salt Lake’s roster intact, free agency opened, allowing four RSL players to choose where they want to go next season.
In addition to Rimando and Wingert, forward Chad Barrett and defender Chris Schuler also appeared on the MLS free agent list Sunday. Rimando and Wingert reached the ends of their contracts, while RSL declined the options on Barrett and Schuler’s contracts.
No deals were immediately announced for RSL’s free agents.