Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
PREVIEW: Old faces welcome new boss at RSL
by Paul Kennedy, March 5th, 2014 9:15PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, real salt lake

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS 2014: Western Conference] On Saturday, Real Salt Lake will take to the field in MLS action for the first time in three months since its heart-breaking loss at MLS Cup 2013, a match in which it led with 14 minutes left in regulation and had a chance to win in the shootout. Everyone is back on the field in what is the most experienced lineup in MLS history. On the sidelines, though, is a new boss.

Jeff Cassar isn't a new face, having joined RSL as a goalkeeping coach in 2007 and served as the No. 1 assistant to Jason Kreis, who left after seven seasons to take the head coaching job of expansion New York City FC. Cassar knows the players well. Every projected starter is entering his fifth year of service or more with the club.

2013 Real Salt Lake
Record: 16-10-8.
Finish: 2nd in Western Conference.
Playoffs: defeated in MLS Cup.

“I believe in these guys,” Cassar said in taking the RSL job in December. “I believe in the core group of players that we have. The leadership. The character. It's unbelievable. I believe in the young talent that we have on our team. The future is very bright for RSL.”

That youth will be tested as RSL has three players likely headed to the World Cup -- goalie Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckerman for the USA and forward Alvaro Saborio for Costa Rica -- and it could be without three starters from the team that won the 2013 Western Conference final for Saturday's opener -- forwards Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval and defender Chris Schuler.

Western Conference Preview:
Chivas USA | Colorado | FC Dallas
LA Galaxy | Portland

WHY BE OPTIMISTIC? Real Salt Lake has perhaps the strongest team in MLS down the middle with Rimando in goal, Nat Borchers at center, Beckerman and Javier Morales in midfield and Saborio up front.

Add to that Luis Gil, the best young American midfielder in MLS, and veteran Ned Grabavoy (or young Sebastian Velasquez) and you have the most dominant midfield -- on its day -- in MLS. Up front, RSL can go five deep with Saborio, Findley, Sandoval, Joao Plata and Olmes Garcia.

No club has done a better job at developing young players than RSL. Carlos Salcedo provides cover for Schuler, and the club has high hopes for Homegrown signing Jordan Allen from the University of Virginia.

A change in qualification rules cost RSL a berth in next season's Concacaf Champions League, but it could be a blessing as it wouldn't have to deal with the extra fixtures in the fall.

WHY BE PESSIMISTIC? Kreis was a huge presence at RSL and will be sorely missed. No, he couldn't lead RSL to a second MLS title after the 2009 championship, but he rebuilt the team last year and led it to the MLS and Open Cup finals.

Schuler was a big factor in RSL's 2013 postseason success, but he is doubtful for the opener against the Galaxy with a a foot injury. He'd be a terrible loss if the foot problems that have bothered him in recent years linger.

PROJECTED FINISH: 1st-3rd place. Only D.C. United in 2009 has changed coaches after appearing in MLS Cup and returned to the final the next season, so history isn't on RSL's side, but it has the balance of experience and youth to get through the MLS season.



PROJECTED LINEUP: 4-4-2
Goalkeeper:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
18-Nick Rimando (34)/USA (8th season)

Defenders:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
2-Tony Beltran (26)/USA (7th season)
6-Nat Borchers (32)/USA (7th season)
28-Chris Schuler (26)/USA (5th season)
17-Chris Wingert (31)/USA (8th season)

Midfielders:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
5-Kyle Beckerman (31)/USA (8th season)
20-Ned Grabavoy (30)/USA (6th season)
21-Luis Gil (20)/USA (5th season)
11-Javier Morales (34)/USA (8th season)

Forwards:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
15-Alvaro Saborio (31)/USA (5th season)
10-*Robbie Findley (28)/USA (2nd season)

First off the bench:
NO. PLAYER (AGE)/COUNTRY
13-Olmes Garcia (21)/Colombia (2nd season)
49-Devon Sandoval (22)/USA (2nd season)
8-Joao Plata (22)/Ecuador (2nd season)
26-Sebastian Velasquez (23)/Colombia (3rd season)
Real Salt Lake: complete roster.

Note:
returning players in bold.
*second stint at club.

MARCH SCHEDULE:
March 8: at LA Galaxy, 10:30 pm ET
March 15:
at San Jose, 10:30 pm ET
March 22:
LA Galaxy, 9:30 pm ET
March 29:
Toronto FC, 9:30 pm ET
Real Salt Lake: complete schedule.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Trio joins team at Buenos Aires training camp    
[USA UNDER-20 MEN] U.S. under-20 men's national team head coach Tab Ramos brought in Columbus Crew ...
Scorpions unveil plans for Toyota Field expansion    
[MLS EXPANSION] The NASL's San Antonio Scorpions released plans for doubling the capacity of Toyota Field, ...
Keane nutmegs and scores with sweet chip    
[VIDEO PICK: MLS Goals of the Week] Robbie Keane nutmegged a defender then chipped the goalkeeper ...
What They're Saying: Jurgen Klinsmann    
"Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, whoever plays in MLS, the foreign guys, they all go. But ...
What They're Saying: Jurgen Klinsmann    
"That he's made some statements that he's not content, sees it differently, that's legitimate and that's ...
Regional championship kicks off in Washington    
[COPA CENTROAMERICANA] Such is the drawing power of Central American teams that Uncaf, the governing body ...
What They're Saying: Greg Maas    
"I'll tell you straightaway, it was a dream come true." -- Utah Valley men's coach Greg ...
Soccer America Women's Top 25    
[COLLEGE RANKINGS] There was no change at the top of the Soccer America Women's Top 25 ...
Soccer America Men's Top 25    
[COLLEGE RANKINGS] UCLA held its No. 1 position in the Soccer America Men's Top 25 ahead ...
Who laughs last after transfer deadline?    
[SOCIAL MEDIA ROUNDUP] As the transfer deadline came and went, hundreds of millions changed hands, players ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives