LEHI, Utah – New York brought in Thierry Henry. Chicago locked down Nery Castillo. But what are the reigning MLS champs doing?
Nothing. And that, as it seems, is just the way the folks at Real Salt Lake like it.
Perhaps no team in MLS is tied to the ideas of team unity and chemistry like RSL. They rode their team-first identity to an unlikely league title last season, famously winning the MLS Cup over an LA Galaxy team with big names like Landon Donovan and David Beckham.
And midfielder Will Johnson believes that approach is still the right one, even as a new crop of Designated Players get set to make their impact around the league.
“I believe [RSL owner] Dave Checketts has the right approach, that we look at a player if the right guy comes along.”
According to general manager Garth Lagerwey, the cards are stacked against them making a move during this window.
“We have very limited resources," he said. "If you are going to make a major move, it’s going to involve a trade of some kind. And with the streak that we’ve been on [that just ended] and being second in the league, I’m not that motivated to move anybody out.”
In addition, Lagerwey points out that the team did initiate another loan deal for midfielder Nelson Gonzalez, and sometimes securing an existing player is just as important as bringing in a new one.
If there is a deal done, it could be to shore up the holding midfield spot that has largely rested on the shoulders of Ned Grabavoy and Jean Alexandre. Those two have filled in during the absence of captain Kyle Beckerman, who is recovering from a foot injury.
“The biggest thing for us is, when does Beckerman come back?,” Lagerwey said. "If he doesn’t [come back soon], then we have to find a player."
For now, it appears that former FC Dallas midfielder Pablo Ricchetti may be a player that the team looks at it if they do face a need in the midfield.
But although Ricchetti has been training with the team for several days, Lagerwey expects that it’s unlikely that the team extends an offer to him or any other player until near the MLS transfer window closing.
“We are going to wait as long as humanly possible before making a decision,” Lagerwey said. “You can always improve, but I wouldn’t tell you that we have a glaring weakness that is jumping out at you game after game.”
However, part of a GM’s role is to look into the future. And there is a realistic possibility that the team could lose forwards Robbie Findley and Alvaro Saborio after this season to expiring contracts.
“We’ve thought about that, and we have plans in place, but our focus now has to be winning a championship," Lagerwey said. “You can’t worry about how you look next year. Our two goals this year are to get out of group stage in CONCACAF Champions League, and win another championship. Any move we make will be geared to that, and that alone.”