After missing the MLS playoffs for the first time in seven years in 2015, Real Salt Lake came storming back and returned to the postseason in 2016. But a late-season slump -- no wins in its last seven
games -- put a damper on the season. The offseason saw one big move as Albert Rusnak
was signed from Dutch club Groningen. Opening day ...
Projected XI --
Rimando; Beltran, Horst, Schuler, Wingert; Sunny, Mulholland; Allen, Rusnak, Plata; Movsisyan.
The young Slovakian
international will have big shoes to fill as he must fill in at playmaker for 36-year-old Javier Morales
, whose option was not picked up after 10 seasons with RSL. At his farewell press
conference, Morales said he wanted to stay and his 2017 contract would have been picked up if he started 24 games. (He finished with 23 starts when he began the season finale at Seattle on the
Rusnak is 14 years younger than Morales and was a bright spot in preseason. He is one of only two changes in the Real Salt Lake lineup. Young American Jordan Allen
taken over for Juan Manuel Martinez
in midfield. Burrito returned to Argentina to play for former club Velez Sarsfield after he told local media he needed to care for a family dog suffering
from cancer and needing chemotherapy.
One big issue for RSL in 2016 was injuries. Sunny
multiple facial fractures in a game against the Red Bulls on June 22. The first-year
Nigerian, whose injury coincided with RSL's spiral, played only three games after that. Yura Movsisyan
returned to RSL after seven years in Europe and scored nine goals -- an MLS career high --
but was bothered by a bruised heel that limited his availability late in the season.
Both Sunny and Movsisyan should start when RSL opens at home Saturday against Toronto FC, but the
status of Kyle Beckerman
, MLS's all-time leader for appearances by a field player, is questionable. He missed the entire preseason as he battled a knee injury suffered in late January.
Who’s in … GOALKEEPERS:
Matt Van Oekel (FC Edmonton, NASL Signing). DEFENDERS:
Horst (Houston Dynamo, MLS Free Agent). MIDFIELDERS:
Jose Hernandez (UCLA, Homegrown), Albert Rusnak (Groningen/NED, Transfer). FORWARDS (6):
Chad Barrett (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS
Free Agent), Brooks Lennon (Liverpool/ENG, Loan), Sebastian Saucedo (Veracruz/MEX, Loan Expired). Who’s out … GOALKEEPERS
: Jeff Attinella (Portland Timbers, Trade via Minnesota United). DEFENDERS:
Phanuel Kavita, Jamison Olave (Retired), Boyd Okwuonu. MIDFIELDERS:
(FC Dallas, MLS Free Agent), John Stertzer (New York City FC, Free Agent). FORWARDS:
Pedro Baez (Cerro Porteno/PAR, Loan Expired), Olmes Garcia, Juan Manuel Martinez (Velez Sarsfield/ARG, Free
Agent), Devon Sandoval (San Francisco Deltas, Free Agent), Emery Welshman. First five games … March
-– Toronto FC March 11 --
at Chicago Fire March 18 --
LA Galaxy March 25 --
at NY Red Bulls April 1 --
at Minnesota United