Real Salt Lake 2021 Season Preview

Real Salt Lake fell short of the playoffs in a disappointing 2020 campaign and have had something of a low-key offseason thus far. Still, this club is one of the #PlayYourKids leaders and often seem to get more out of their roster than the sum of their parts.

Freddy Juarez enters his second full season in charge of the club, looking to return the club to the playoffs.

2020 season

  • MLS Reg. Season: 11th in Western Conference (22 pts - 1.00 PPG - 5-7-10, -10 GD)
  • Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: DNQ

Star Players

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Albert Rusnák
Midfielder · Real Salt Lake

The Slovakia international took a bit of a step back in 2020, struggling to recapture his top form and the club’s attack suffered for it. The talented attacking midfielder will look to rebound in 2021.

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Damir Kreilach
Midfielder · Real Salt Lake

Kreliach is one of the league’s most versatile players. Signed as a box-to-box or defensive midfielder, he has often played as a makeshift center forward in RSL and has been solid at it. Where will he play in 2021?

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Aaron Herrera
Defender · Real Salt Lake

Herrera has been a constant, consistent presence on RSL’s backline for several seasons. He’s hardly missed a game over the last two years and his form earned him his debut with the senior US national team while he has been a key player for various youth national teams.

Young Player to Watch

Jeizon Ramírez
Forward · Real Salt Lake

The Venezuelan winger played just 80 minutes in 2020 after he was acquired when the team transferred star Jefferson Savarino. Ramirez has talent but can the 20-year-old earn more minutes in 2021?

Key Acquisitions

  • Rubio Rubin: It feels like Rubin has had a long career. He made his senior US national team debut in 2014, was breaking through at FC Utrecht in the Netherlands and has had spells at the likes of Club Tijuana and most recently the San Diego Loyal. Now at his seventh club, he’s still just 25.
  • Anderson Julio: Julio was acquired from Liga MX side San Luis on loan for 2021, the winger adding to Juarez’s options in attack. He was a highly rated product of LDU Quito before moving to San Luis in 2020.

Key Departures

  • Corey Baird: Baird was traded to LAFC this offseason, ending his time with the club after signing a Homegrown contract ahead of the 2018 season. He won Rookie of the Year that season.
  • Kyle Beckerman: The RSL and MLS legend finally hung up his boots after the 2020 season. He is the league’s all-time leader in regular-season games played (498), games started (461) and minutes played (41,164) among field players.

Projected Starting XI

real salt lake projected xi

2021 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (4): Jeff Dewsnup, Zach MacMath, David Ochoa, Andrew Putna
  • Defenders (7): Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Erik Holt, Ashtone Morgan, Noah Powder, Marcelo Silva, Donny Toia
  • Midfielders (8): Nick Besler, Maikel Chang, Everton Luiz, Bret Halsey, Damir Kreilach, Justin Portillo, Pablo Ruiz, Albert Rusnak
  • Forwards (9): Andrew Brody, Chris Garcia, Milan Iloski, Anderson Julio, Douglas Martinez, Justin Meram, Jeizon Ramirez, Rubio Rubin, Tate Schmitt

Armchair Analyst's Breakdown

  • Strength: Right back Aaron Herrera has been one of the best in the league over the past few years, and given the way the roster’s now set up it looks like Damir Kreilach’s going to get a shot at finally being a full-time central midfielder.
  • Weakness: They lack depth at the back and their attacking corps was punchless in 2020. Few teams generated less going forward than RSL, and while there have been some offseason additions, none look to be serious needle-movers.


  • Charles Boehm: 13th in West
  • Tom Bogert: 13th in West
  • Susannah Collins: 12th in West
  • Matthew Doyle: 13th in West
  • Sam Jones: 13th in West
  • Michael Lahoud: 13th in West
  • Joe Lowery: 13th in West
  • Jillian Sakovits: 11th in West
  • Greg Seltzer: 12th in West
  • Steve Zakuani: 10th in West