Author: Arielle Castillo | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
Real Salt Lake started 2016 off hot, managing to hang on near the top of the table for weeks, and maintaining an unbeaten streak at the RioT through the summer. The dog days of summer, though, proved a slog – past September, big wins eluded them and the Dynamo ended their home streak. Still, they finished above the red line in the West, so if they can figure out what exactly turned sour in the summer, they'll prove dangerous.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Albert Rusnak (F)
Brooks Lennon (F)
Luis Silva (M/F)
|Javier Morales (M)
Juan Manuel "Burrito" Martinez (F)
Jamison Olave (D)
John Stertzer (M)
Player to watch: Albert Rusnak
Coming from FC Groningen in the Netherlands, Rusnak arrived at Real Salt Lake after a bidding war that also reportedly included the Seattle Sounders, as well as foreign top-flight clubs AS Roma and Swansea. The 22-year-old Designated Player should prove a creative attacking midfielder who already wowed Dutch Eredevisie observers with his technical skills.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - JEFF CASSAR
With all the offseason moves, RSL's gotten an important youth infusion that adds depth everywhere. It's likely they'll look to Rusnak to take on JaviMo's old role, and continue to rely on a solid attacking midfield behind the threat of Yura Movsisyan up top.
Projected Starting XI
4-2-3-1, right to left: Nick Rimando (GK) — Tony Beltran (D), Aaron Maund (D), Justen Glad (D), Demar Phillips (D) — Sunday "Sunny" Stephen (M), Kyle Beckerman (M) — Jordan Allen (M), Albert Rusnak (M), Joao Plata (F) – Yura Movsisyan (F)
7th in Western Conference. The battle for the red line is less about Real Salt Lake really slipping, and more about a packed field of talented contenders in the conference. If they don't stymie another summer slump, things could wind up ugly at the end of the regular season. But will an infusion of fresh blood take them out of the potential danger zone? We'll wait and watch.