SANDY, Utah – A year ago, Real Salt Lake were coming off their best-ever regular season – a record-setting campaign – and had just a short period of time to prepare for the make-or-break nature of the CONCACAF Champions League.
As a result, they made virtually no roster changes in the offseason with the lone exception of adding Arturo Alvarez.
And while wholesale changes are not expected this winter, there are bound to be some new faces joining the club this time around.
“I do think that you’ll see us be a little bit more liberal in terms of some of the options that are in front of us this offseason,” general manager Garth Lagerwey told reporters last week. “We’ve got a little more time.”
Coach Jason Kreis pointed to RSL’s Champions League commitment as a driving force for any roster moves for the second-straight year, perhaps leading to changes instead of limiting them.
“We had to keep this group together in order to give us the best chance to win CONCACAF,” Kreis said, explaining the team’s offseason strategy last year. “So this year, the thinking would be that, because we’re in CONCACAF, we certainly need to again have a very deep roster full of players that we can rely on and can contribute to meaningful matches.
“I think we need to get our roster deeper. I think it needs to be 28 strong. … But we won’t need to rely on a lot of those players until the end of the season, so we’ll have a lot of time to develop them into our system.”
That wasn’t always the case in 2011 based on the relative underperformance of some those bidding their time on the Salt Lake bench this season. Kreis and Lagerwey both pointed out that Chris Schuler and Luis Gil emerged as reliable players, but they hinted that others might have failed to make their mark.
“I think we got a lot of information,” Lagerwey said. “I think Jason described it as it’s impossible for any player on our roster to say they didn’t get a chance this year, because with all the suspensions and injuries and call-ups, we had to play everybody.”
Exactly what kind of decisions that information leads to will be something that must be weighed against any insight the staff collects via scouting this offseason.
That’s a process that will start immediate for Kreis & Co.
“I’ll be taking off to South America to do some scouting down there,” Kreis said, “and then we’ll come back and do continuing college scouting and all sorts of other things. The short answer you are probably looking for: we are looking to add players to this team.”