Real Salt Lake 2014 Season Preview: Holdin’ ‘Em. And Not Blinking. Ever.

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Jeff Cassar?

How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 16-10-8 (W-L-T), 57 gf, 41 ga; 2nd in the West
RSL did very well last season without anyone noticing. Well, that’s not entirely true: everyone noticed that freakin’ freakish loss to DC United in the U.S. Open Cup final. That got people wondering why RSL’s guts liquefy on the big occasion, at least for a while. After that, the team generally came up mainly as a club very much still in the hunt for the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup, but what about this other, far more interesting thing… It seemed like they were lining up for MLS Cup by the time anyone gave them more than thought than that – and yet they came damn close to winning the thing. And with a divine assist from Kyle Beckerman, of all people. The substance to Seattle’s style and LA’s glamor; the hairy bogeyman that chased those kids from Portland back to their room: it sucks for RSL that they didn’t take home any trophies, but that just means they didn’t have a happy year. Being in every domestic competition to the very end, on the other hand, means they at least had a solid one. Think about that for a second…

Exciting Additions! – Uh…

Tricky Departures… – Uh…

Quality Parts: Kyle Beckerman, Nat Borchers, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Joao Plata, Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio, Chris Schuler

It Gets Better If They Come Good: Tony Beltran, Robbie Findley, Olmes Garcia, Luis Gil, Devon Sandoval, Sebastian Velasquez

What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
Now being the bridesmaid…every…damn…time would get some people thinking about adjustments or, failing that, at least some tweaks. RSL does not roll that way. If MLS was a big, 19-person high-stakes poker game, they’d be the guy at the table calling every bet and staring into the soul of the other gamblers. So, yeah, a name or two show under RSL’s line on the ledger on the transaction page, but they don’t belong to anyone special. As things now stand, the biggest off-season move for RSL was losing coach/motivator/terse interviewee, Jason Kreis. So…what to make of that? Unless, he’s the missing key to the relevant trophy cases, it’s very, very hard to believe that new coach Jeff Cassar will get more out of RSL’s players. They’ll continue to be good, in all probability, 2014 will live or die on what matters more: the benefits of another year of experience and education for the younger guys (e.g. Schuler, Gil, Sandoval, and Velasquez), versus what the older guys (Borchers, Morales, and Beckerman) lost to damn, dirty age. Unless that equation pencils out favorably, or unless they add some shiny new parts, I expect this team to walk into the playoffs, but to step out a little sooner. (And, god willing, Portland has finally scouted them enough to actually beat them.)

2014 Season Opener: @ LA Galaxy, March 8

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: 2014 Major League Soccer Season Preview Spectaularrrrr! | The Next 5-Year Plan

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