SANDY, Utah — Expectations for former Portuguese youth international David Viana are high. And a lot different, entering 2013, than they were at the end of the 2012 season.
Down the stretch last year, Viana was still new to the United States, Major League Soccer, Real Salt Lake and, perhaps most importantly, the system head coach Jason Kreis and the team employ. His playing time – “sparse” would be a good word for it – reflected as much.
This time around, however, he will be counted on to compete for valuable minutes, perhaps from the start.
"It's different than anything I ever played in France and Spain, but I am growing accustomed to the way the team is run here," said Viana of RSL’s possession-based diamond midfield through a Portuguese interpreter. "I've got the qualities of a passion for the game and the talent to separate myself to earn some quality minutes and help this team."
One other thing Viana has going for him, aside from his obvious on-the-ball skill, is the position he plays.
"I see myself as a better fit on the left wing in the midfield," he said.
That position had been manned by Will Johnson for the past four-and-a-half seasons, but with the Canadian’s trade to Portland, that spot on the team sheet is no longer written in ink. Luis Gil may have the inside track, but if the US U-20 team can get through group play in next month’s U-20 World Cup qualifying campaign, Gil could be gone for the month of June at the World Cup itself.
It is also not out of the realm of possibilities that the immensely talented, 20-year-old Viana could beat Gil or any of the other RSL midfielders for the job outright.
So as Viana gets ready for his first full season with the club — he signed on Sept. 14 last season on a free transfer — and he prepares for a season in Salt Lake City, he is comfortable with the new expectations.
The weather, on the other hand, is another story.
"It's good except for it's very cold," he said through the interpreter, even though one really wasn't very necessary for that comment as his "muy frío" was picked up by all around him.
"I came to gain more experience because where I was playing there was a ton of tough competition around my age," he said. "I want to gain good experience and get better.”