On the heels of today's Eddie Pope acquisition, Real Salt Lake General Manager Steve Pastorino and Head Coach John Ellinger today announced five trialists who will be joining the team at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida competing for senior or developmental roster spots: Rich Cullen, Kenny Cutler, Bryan Jackson, Leighton O'Brien and Kevin Novak.
"These are players that are coming into preseason training camp competing for senior roster spots with some being eligible for development contracts due to their age," Ellinger said in advance of tonight's team meeting and physical evaluations. "As a coaching staff, we're looking for players who can solidify our roster as starters or coming off the bench."
Cullen, a 6'1", 195-lb goalkeeper, played for the Seattle Sounders of the A-League for the last two seasons. Cullen shinned in 2003 with a career year. He received A-League 2nd Team honors, finishing among league leaders in several goalkeeper categories. Cullen won 12 games in 2003, nine of which were shutouts and he also led the league in fewest goals allowed with 15.
Cutler made his international debut with the U.S. Under-16 National Team against France on May 20, 1997. The 5'9", 140-lb midfielder, played and started every game at the 1999 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament in Montego Bay, Jamaica alongside Jackson. Cutler co-captained the U-17 National Team and made his first international appearance as a member of the U-17s on February 13, 1998 against Mexico.
Jackson, a native of La Canada, Calif. made his international debut with the U.S. Under-17 National team against Austria on April 10, 1998. He played 17 games for the U-17 National Team in 1998. Jackson started every match at the 1999 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament Montego Bay, Jamaica.
O'Brien, a 5'10", 160-lb midfielder, has been playing oversees with Bodens BK of the Swedish Supperettan and is a former teammate for recently signed Real Salt Lake defender Brian Dunseth. He was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS in 1998 and played two seasons in the League before joining the Sounders in 2001. O'Brien was named 2001 Sounders Most Valuable Player in his first season with the team. He played in 27 games in the 2002 season totaling 13 goals, 11 assists and 37 points, the second most on the squad. O'Brien was named the 2002 A-League MVP.
Novak, a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., attended the RSL invitation-only tryout on January 22 in Provo, Utah, where he impressed Ellinger and the RSL coaching staff. He was a four-year starter at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif.