For the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will preview each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2011 and ending with the league's newest addition, the Montreal Impact. This is part two of two previewing Real Salt Lake's 2012 season. You can find Part 1 here.
Depth Chart: 1. Nick Rimando, 2. Kyle Reynish, 3. Eduardo Fernandez
Strengths: Rimando has long been among the top keepers in the league, and has been rewarded with a rash of recent US national team call-ups as well. He’s a proven shot-stopper, and one of the best with the ball at his feet. Kyle Reynish is a quality backup who perhaps only lacks big game experience on his resume.
Weaknesses: Third 'keeper Fernandez has all of the physical tools, but he’s inexperienced and may not be ready to step into the limelight yet if called upon. Fortunately, that’s a remote possibility.
Wildcard: If Rimando is in the mix with the US team during qualifying, he may miss several league games either due to conflicts or needed rest. The team will discover if Reynish can continue the stellar backup role that he’s shown in the recent past.
Depth Chart: RB 1. Chris Wingert, 2. Terukazu Tanaka; CB 1. Nat Borchers - Jámison Olave, 2. Chris Schuler, 3. Leone Cruz; LB 1. Tony Beltran, 2. Diogo de Almeida
Strengths: The starting backline is among the league’s best. Borchers and Olave provide a formidable duo in the center. Wingert has been a mainstay either at right or left back for several years, and Beltran seemed to elevate his game in 2011, giving the team a high-quality option on either side.
Weaknesses: With Robbie Russell out of the picture, the team doesn’t have any proven depth at outside back should Wingert or Beltran miss any action in 2012.
Wildcard: Schuler has played a solid role in the middle when called upon. He also saw some action at the left back spot, and did quite admirably as well. Can he help in that spot if needed again, or will another player emerge?
Depth Chart: LM 1. Will Johnson, 2. Jonny Steele, 3. Nico Muñiz; CM 1. Javier Morales - Kyle Beckerman, 2. Luis Gil, 3. Yordany Álvarez, 4. Sebastian Velasquez; RM 1. Ned Grabavoy, 2. Enzo Martinez
Strengths: The starting unit is highly technical and has played together for several years. Add Gil into the mix, and there is a solid core. Álvarez also showed last season to be a capable backup to Beckerman, who could miss time again to US national team call-ups.
Weaknesses: While the midfield goes about six players deep, the rest is a bit of an unknown. Velasquez and Martinez are talented draft picks, but may not be ready to contribute yet. Steele brings the most professional experience among the new recruits, but it’s unknown if he can make an impact at this level.
Wildcard: Gil made his mark on the squad last season. If he builds on that and takes another step forward, that will bode well for RSL.
Depth Chart: 1. Álvaro Saborío - Fabián Espíndola, 2. Paulo Jr., 3. Cody Arnoux, 4. Emiliano Bonfigli
Strengths: Saborío and Espíndola proved a successful partnership in 2011. The duo had 21 goals and five assists between them, and should be productive once again this season. Paulo Jr. looks to be ready to contribute after an injury kept him sidelined most of last season.
Weaknesses: There isn’t a lot of proven professional capability among the reserve forwards. Paulo Jr. has contributed well in short spurts for RSL, but he needs to show that he can do that on a consistent basis over an entire season.
Wildcard: Arnoux has had a series of injuries ever since turning professional. He was highly touted coming out of college, and if he can produce as some believe he’s capable, he could bolster an already potent forward line.