- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 9, 2009
- 10 Comments
- 2009 Season Preview, Jason Kreis, Javier Morales, Season Previews, Will Johnson
Ah, time to continue on with our 2009 season previews. Today we head out to Rio Tinto Stadium to preview the always interesting Real Salt Lake. This club was an eye-lash away from reaching the MLS Cup a season ago, now Jason Kreis has his crew ready to go for the new season.
2008 record and finish: 10-10-10, 40 pts., third in west, lost in western conference finals
Offseason Player Movement:
Ned Grabavoy (waiver draft)
Jean Alexandre (SuperDraft)
Raphael Cox (SuperDraft)
Luis Escalada (signed)
Nik Besagno (waived)
Kenny Cutler (waived)
Dustin Kirby (waived)
Nathan Sturgis (Seattle Sounders FC – Expansion Draft)
Dema Kovalenko (trade with LA)
Kenny Deuchar (Hamilton Academical – Scotland)
Fabian Espindola (unknown club in Venezuela)
Kevin Reiman (waived)
Brennan Tennelle (waived)
Question going into 2009:
1. Did RSL actually improve in the offseason?
Just like most clubs this winter, RSL went with the hope of the less is more approach to the season. Very few additions and loads of players released or let go. Even though RSL was very close to the MLS Cup a season ago they were still extremely average last year with their lovely 10-10-10 record. I look at who they lost and really begin to wonder if this gamble will work for Kreis and company. They should have a go-to scorer in Will Johnson, we know about Javier Morales and what he brings to the table but my biggest concerns are the defense in the midfield and in the backline.
Defensively this club was pretty sound like year but losing their two defensive midfielders in Nathan Sturgis and Dema Kovalenko this winter really hurts. That bite that Kovalenko brought to the middle of the park will be tough to repleace.
2. Will we ever see Chris Seitz in goal for this club?
Kreis has said a few times this winter that Seitz will get his chances this year more than he has before. Thing is he cannot continue to sit on the bench with all his potential and skills that he has. If he continues to sit he loses some of his trade value, something I am sure the club is looking at right now.
We know Nick Rimando is good but a lot of people see Seitz as another Brad Guzan type keeper. Can’t keep Seitz on the bench too long here. I fully expect to see him more this season.
3. Breakout player to watch this year.
Yura Movsisyan is the guy RSL needs to have the break out season. I believe I had him here a year ago and late in the season he started to get there. I think 2009 is now the season he truly breaks out into the striker that his former clubs wish they still had. Plus word has it he will be in a contract year, we all know what that does to players looking for more money.
Look at the 2009 Schedule:
A SuperLiga type schedule for this club. Heavy in a couple months, light in summer months. As hard as their first few games are they must get off to a quick start with three early home games in April. I say that because May comes with a flury of road games, four out of six games to be exact.
I still love that the final game of the year is against Colorado. That is something I hope the league is able to do more of, scheduling rivalry games as the final game of the year. Remember how much was on the line last year with those two, I fully expect this year to be the same way.
2009 Season Outlook:
It may be too early to call this club a MLS Cup contender but there is no denying that Jason Kreis has them moving in the right direction here. They are young and exciting to watch…not to mention their home stadium is beautiful.
Depth is a serious issue with this club, especially in the middle of the park. Should Morales or Kyle Beckerman take a hit for a while this club could struggle offensively.
Missing the playoffs would be a giant step backward for this club but the talent is there to get back to the post season. Make a move or two in the summer and this could be a true contender.