RSL evolve as Schuler, Watson-Siriboe claim starting jobs

Real Salt Lake’s starting center backs, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Chris Schuler, hope the team’s 1-0 scrimmage win over the LA Galaxy on Friday is a preview of things to come.

“Camp has been pretty tough,” Watson-Siriboe (above) told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Carson, Calif., following the game. “We haven’t been as sharp as we would like, especially defensively. We’ve given up too much in our other games, but I think things are getting better and better.

“Hopefully, this can be the turning point to the camp, the preseason. Maybe we can use this as a starting point to really come together as a defense.”

The fact the team is counting on the pair to lead the way entering the season is a great opportunity, but at the same time a little bit daunting. Neither are particularly young – both are entering their fourth season – but neither has been expected to be “the man” coming into a season either. With Nat Borchers still out following quad surgery, and Jámison Olave traded to New York, the starting center back positions are theirs to lose.

“I am still trying to push to become a starter,” said Watson-Siriboe. “Really, no matter what, you can’t really think about it, though. Coach will make the decision. I just want to work harder and make the decision tough on him.”

“Like any relationship, it takes time,” Schuler told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the scrimmage. “We have been spending more and more time together, and it is growing. We are getting better.”

One thing in particular has been good from the duo: communication. Watson-Siriboe is pretty vocal and outgoing off the field, Schuler is more reserved. On the field, however, both make themselves heard.

“It is important to have good communication," said Schuler. "You have to let the others know what is going on so you can move together as a whole team. As we play more together, we learn more and more about the other guy’s tendencies and what he is going to do in certain situations.”

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“I think it continues to get better and better,” said Watson-Siriboe of the communication. “We are continuing to work, but today’s result shows what we can do. We can be one of the best tandems in the league if we continue.”

The duo was on the field together for 63 minutes against LA, and they did exactly what coach Jason Kreis expects of them.

“I really like what both of them bring to the field,” Kreis told MLSsoccer.com last week. “They are both young, but they are both communicators. They still might make a mistake, but you go along and try to train it out of them, keep giving them instructions and practice at how not to make it again. I feel comfortable with them.”