In back-to-back seasons, Real Salt Lake have seen their Audi MLS Cup Playoff runs halted in the Western Conference Semifinals, first by Sporting Kansas City in 2018 and then by the Seattle Sounders in 2019.
But new general manager Elliott Fall isn't discouraged by those endings, and sees signs that RSL are closer to replicating their 2009 season, when they won MLS Cup, or their 2013 one, when they fell to Sporting in the final on penalty kicks.
“If you are able to build a solid foundation, have a core group of players that you believe in and that believe in each other, and then find the right difference makers that can help you win those games on any given day, you can compete for a championship in our league,” Fall said in a recent story with Alex Vejar of The Salt Lake Tribune. “And truthfully, I don't think we're that far from it.”
That optimism is framed by Freddy Juarez entering his first full season as head coach, plus a core that remains, even as all-time MLS great goalkeeper Nick Rimando retires. Attacking midfielder Albert Rusnak and winger Jefferson Savarino are among the best at their positions in MLS when firing on all cylinders, and ironman midfielder Kyle Beckerman signed a new deal on Monday. The defensive core returns, too, with US men’s national team fringe center back Justen Glad among the standouts.
There are some question marks as the club’s 2020 preseason preparations get underway, but Fall’s confident in the roster as he fully takes over from former GM Craig Waibel.
“We really like the roster,” Fall said. “We've got a really good group returning from last year. … We’ve got a lot of young pieces that are continuing to grow and continuing to get better. And we'll continue to find the pieces to supplement those guys and help bring the rest of the group up.”