Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Reasons for Optimism in Salt Lake
by Ridge Mahoney, January 28th, 2008 1PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

Two possible foreign imports added to a trio signed last season, several candidates to replace veteran defender Eddie Pope, a pair of first-round draft picks, and the prospect of a new stadium perhaps being ready by September mark the fourth preseason for Real Salt Lake.

More than 30 players have commenced training as Coach Jason Kreis, who took over for John Ellinger in early May and posted a 6-13-7 record, sets out to edge RSL into the playoffs for the first time.

"We don't label anybody a starter and we don't label anybody a reserve," says Kreis. "They're all just a part of Real Salt Lake and we're trying to build a competitive mentality."

RSL hasn't been all that competitive in its three years to date, and its quest doesn't figure to be any easier than it was last season, when despite a moderate late-season push it finished sixth at 6-15-9 and with 27 points, just two points more than expansion team Toronto.

This year, there's an additional Western Conference foe in the revived San Jose Earthquakes, and a revived and presumably re-focused Galaxy under a new head coach, former Dutch international Ruud Gullit.

In the first round of the SuperDraft, RSL picked Tony Beltran of UCLA with the third overall pick and ODU defender David Horst at No. 14 to shore up two of the team's needs: attacking play from the flanks (Beltran), and central defense (Horst). They are in camp, but several players whose performances will shape RSL's season have yet to check in.

Training with the U.S. U-23s are striker Robbie Findley, midfielder Nathan Sturgis, and goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Kyle Beckerman is with the senior team preparing for a Feb. 6 match against Mexico.

Defender Carey Talley is nearly ready to return from a knee injury and is supposed to resume full training when camp shifts to Southern California at the end of the week.

Reasons for optimism? Yes, there are a few.

The Argentine trio of Javier Morales, Matias Mantilla and Fabian Espindola livened up the squad when they came aboard in midseason, and RSL is negotiating the acquisitions of Colombian defender Jamilson Olave of Colombia and Argentine midfielder Matias Cordoba.

These deals don't always go through; remember last year, Jay-Jay Okocha was all but signed but never arrived.

"We thought they brought something different to our team, and to our league," said general manager Garth Lagerwey of Morales, Espindola and Mantilla. "MLS will always be a physical league but I think last season our team and other teams proved you find players with skill who can also play that style."

RSL has signed left back Ian Joy, a native of San Diego who has knocked around England, Scotland and Germany and didn't play during a brief stint with Columbus in 2003. Last year, Ellinger signed University of Maryland product Chris Lancos, who had been playing for Kaiserslautern's reserve team; Joy comes to MLS for the second time from FC St. Pauli of the German Bundesliga 2.

One RSL original has left. Midfielder Jamie Watson played 38 games in three seasons after being picked No. 13 overall in the 2005 SuperDraft. He was waived Tuesday as a fresh fleet of candidates arrives led by Beltran, who is one of several newcomers who will be given the chance to earn a starting spot.

"At the end of the day we have no question that he's the guy who can play in the league and I'm sure will play in the league for a long time," says Kreis of Beltran, a U.S. teammate of Seitz at last summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup. "He's going to compete and that's what we want, guys who can come in and push the whole group."



No comments yet.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Dempsey: Qualifying for the World Cup is bigger than breaking scoring records    
In his bid to "stay relevant" and in the plans of national team head coach Bruce ...
Bruce Arena makes the USA fun to watch    
Before Friday's game against Honduras, I wondered whether the U.S. national team would bring joy to ...
Michael Bradley: USA prepared 'to tilt the bar in our favor' early against Honduras    
As they train in San Jose for a crucial Hexagonal match against Honduras on Friday, the ...
Next move for Real Salt Lake is the most crucial in a decade    
The history of RSL is one of remarkable stability -- just three head coaches since starting ...
U.S. roster announcement: Bruce Arena's return marked by a singleness of purpose    
Multiply the left-back debate with a few more positions each with several candidates and you'll have ...
Quakes encouraged but not giddy after impressive opener    
Four seasons without playoffs has left the fervent fans in San Jose discouraged, but a ray ...
MLS 1-22: Ranking the teams on the eve of a new season    
Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 ...
Random thoughts as the MLS season draws near    
The 2017 MLS season starts next Friday, March 3, more than a month earlier than the ...
Walker Zimmerman joins the U.S. centerback pool with solid performance    
Two FC Dallas centerbacks were summoned to the first U.S, camp of 2017 and after Matt ...
Rare USA golazo inspires some hope    
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives