- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 24, 2008
- 4 Comments
Top of the morning to ya, hope everyone had a nice Easter holiday. Forgive me already if today is light on the updates, my car was in an accident over the holiday so I will probably be very occupied with that. Notice I say car and not “I was in a car accident.” Weeeelll, you see my car was hit in the street by a car that rolled into with no driver. I won’t go into too many details but it is enough to keep me away from a computer for the day and keep me busy calling insurance companies and getting everything fixed up properly. Thankfully no one was hurt in this…except for my car. Pitty-party I know, but had to throw it out there.
Today we continue our quest leading up to the start of the season this weekend. Crazy to think that already but this preview and two more like it plus the first power rankings of the season with some weekend previews and we then start a new season. Wow. Today we get to preview Real Salt Lake, a club that is hoping to enter the playoffs for the first time in it’s short history.
2007 Record and Finish: 6-15-9, 27 pts., 6th in the west, 12th overall, missed the playoffs
Incoming: Anthony Beltran (SuperDraft), Alex Nimo (SuperDraft), David Horst (SuperDraft), Brennan Tennelle (SuperDraft), Ian Joy (transfer), Tino Nunez (Supplemental Draft), Kevin Reiman (Supplemental Draft), Nat Borchers (transfer), Jámison Olave (loan), Matias Jesus Cordoba (loan), Demo Kovalenko (trade with NY), Kenny Deuchar (transfer)
Outgoing: Eddie Pope (retired), Atiba Harris (trade with Chivas USA), Alecko Eskandarian (trade with Chivas USA), Jamie Watson (waived), Ritchie Kotschau (waived), Chris Brown (waived), Kyle Brown (waived)
Questions Going Into 2008:
1. Lots of moves, but will they pay off?
This has to be the biggest thing surrounding this club right now. Loads of moves, plus the draft picks in both the Super and Supplemental draft. But were they all the right picks. Most of us soccer writers out there felt the SuperDraft was a failure for RSL and we really can never tell about the Supplemental Draft. Throw in a few transfers and a couple loans and this club looks new again.
I look at it this way with RSL after the moves they made last summer when the season was pretty much a loss and they were already playing for 2008. If these few transfers and loans are like those three transfers that were made at the end of last season then this will be a much better club. Look at how they ended their season last year. I believe they won three games in the final two months along with a couple ties and maybe one loss. Jason Kreis’s club fought very hard late in the year due to those moves he made.
2. Defensively, will this club get any better?
The last year on the dreaded turf of Rice-Eccles Stadium should be alright for the defense of RSL. I like the additions of Borchers and Joy, who’s experience over seas should really help this club out. Jámison Olave comes in on loan and should be able to spark this defense as well.
Biggest factor though should be the play of Demo Kovalenko on the defensive side of things. Kovalenko brings a certain toughness that this club really could use in the midfield and on defense. Not to mention his experience in the league as a whole.
I do look for this defense to be much better than the club that gave up 45 goals last year. It doesn’t hurt that they have a stellar duo of keepers in the back too. Thing is, there were four clubs with the same amount or more goals against last year than RSL. Two of them made the playoffs. The problem was always…
3. …Scoring…who’s gonna do it for real this year?
Obviously it has to be Robbie Findley leading the charge I think. He lead this club last season after coming over from LA but with only six goals. This club has to have either a duo of goal scorers (like most clubs) or a guy scoring like 20 goals to even have hope of reaching the playoffs this season. I think Findley can be that guy in this club in scoring at least 10 or more this season.
He will have help this season though with guys like Kenny Deuchar, Fabian Espindola, and Yuri Movsisyan. Offensively this club won’t wow people with names but they should be able to put some goals in the back of the net for once in their history.
4. What exactly is Kreis building in Salt Lake City?
He is building one tough club if you ask me. His style of play took a little while to come around on this club last year and I believe he worked out some of the players that didn’t work out in his system. Its pretty easy to see that with the amount of moves that he made this offseason. He was looking for certain kinds of players and he should have found them. Lots of internationals like DC and Dallas here as well. And notice that this club is built a little like DC due to their ties with one another.
I think the days of poor player selection is over with this club with Kreis at the helm. The draft was shaky but I do like his moves otherwise in terms of the toughness that he brought to this club. They will be a very physical team that will rely on a midfield that controls the pace of the game. With guys like Kyle Beckerman in the midfield that is a good thing to be doing and working with.
5. Will this club be able to contend in the west?
It is possible but only if they start scoring and control the ball more. I said it a thousand times last year that this club was one good central midfielder away from really being dangerous in this league. While I don’t know if they have that central midfielder who can control the pace of the game, I do believe this club will surprise people this season. Not to mention they will be getting a new stadium at the end of the season. I think a hard fought season could be nicely rewarded with a new stadium going into the playoffs. That is the dream that RSL is going for here but it will be a tough battle to accomplish this season.
We know that Houston will be tough but RSL always seems to surprise them. Chivas could be down this year despite not changing much from last year’s western conference group. Dallas will be Dallas and be up and down no matter what. Colorado is a wild card in their own right but this club has tons of confidence against them after winning the Rocky Mountain Cup from them last year. Then there is LA, who is just LA so we won’t go into them right now. And lastly is San Jose, which we know anyone will be better than San Jose this season.
2008 Season Outlook:
Its going to be a real interesting season for this club. I really think they are a dark horse kind of club right now. They will surprise many this season and will not be out of contention in June like before. They must be better defensively and in the midfield this year to even have hope of seeing the post season though. Scoring will come with strong defense and sound midfield play. That’s what Kreis is going for here and with these transfers and draft picks he may have just that.
Again, strong play all year plus a new stadium at the end of the season, possibly going into the playoffs would be a hell of a storyline for this club. Thing is I just don’t know if they will be able to reach the playoffs just yet with this club. They have a lot of new faces that need to learn the MLS game real quick in order to do that storyline. I think the coaching and management is right now with this club but I just have a concern if the players are on the same page just yet.
Of course we know that there is nowhere but up for this club to go and I think it will be that way I just don’t know if the playoffs are in the cards just yet. Look for them to contend in the west for a wild card spot in the playoffs but I think they will fall just short of that playoff birth.