Nik Besagno was the No. 1 pick the MLS SuperDraft in January, and now, just two weeks removed from his graduation from the U.S. Under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla., he is primed to get his first start for Real Salt Lake.
Real, still searching for a formation that will best suit the offensive talent they have in Jason Kries, Clint Mathis and Andy Williams, will feature their third different formation of the year, a 3-5-2. With the three-man back line, RSL coach John Ellinger will be looking for more defensive support in the midfield. So, RSL will start a second defensive midfielder along side Brian Kamler. While he wouldn't commit to it 100 percent, Ellinger implied that Besagno will be that man.
"Every young player has to make his debut sometime," Ellinger said of the prospect of Besagno starting.
Besagno admitted that it has been an adjustment to a different speed of play already, and making that step up would make anyone nervous.
"I'll be a little nervous," Besagno said of the possibility of starting, "but I am excited."
No one is blaming him; it's no small task for a 16-year-old kid to make his debut in front of 40,000 plus fans. But, at a conservative 6 foot 0 and 175 pounds Besagno doesn't have to worry about looking out of place.
"He is a big kid," said Rusty Pierce of Besagno, "so I don't think he'll get pushed around much."
While he may be able to hold his own physically, it was his ability that a lot of people questioned after a less-than-stellar showing at the MLS Combine in January. However, Ellinger says Besagno is the right kind of player at the right time for RSL.
"He's going to make mistakes. We know that," Ellinger said. "But, he brings some bite into a midfield that needs some bite."
If Besagno proves his coach right and becomes the catalyst RSL needs, he may help his side add another skin to their collection as they take on a depleted FC Dallas Saturday.
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.