A New Era Awaits Real Salt Lake In 2020
SANDY, Utah – A new era awaits Real Salt Lake ahead of the 2020 season as newly appointed head coach Freddy Juarez and General Manager Elliot Fall embark on a new journey, together. Both Juarez and Fall have been with RSL for a number of years, and are very familiar with the structure and personnel of the club, however, they have never experienced the pressure of leading a club.
Am I concerned that Juarez and Fall cannot work as a team?
Do I think this team is on the verge of winning an MLS Cup?
Let’s go back to the 2019 season for a second. Turmoil struck RSL midway through the season following the firing of former head coach Mike Petke, we do not need to go into it, I am sure everyone who reads this will remember the incident vividly.
Freddy Juarez took over as head coach and did so with nothing but class. He controlled the locker room and somehow found a way to bring the playing group together. The media and fanbase did not expect this, instead, they predicted the club would drop quickly down the standings. They did not.
Scheming on a master plan pic.twitter.com/tSH77B2lll
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) February 1, 2020
Times Are Changing
How will Juarez and Fall put their stamp on this football club? Will Juarez play a similar brand and style that his failed predecessors implemented? Or will he change the way RSL has played as of late by putting his own flair to the style in which his team plays?
When Juarez took over midway through the 2019 season, we saw a change. The ball was flicked around the pitch on the ground a lot more than it had been under Petke. Juarez clearly was not a fan of the long passes through the air, he wanted his team to play passes on the ground and for the ball to move quickly. The team executed this tactical change and RSL looked like a better team because of it.
I anticipate seeing a similar style in 2020. Although I question whether the formation will be tinkered with. In my opinion, I do not think the traditional 4-2-3-1 formation that RSL has been utilizing over the last handful of years works with the roster that RSL currently has.
Damir Kreilach is not a number nine, rather he is a 10. Although Albert Rusnak plays his best brand of soccer at number 10. Everton Luiz will play in the center of the park, but who will play next to him? I believe Kyle Beckerman’s best days are over, and the veteran captain should come off the bench for RSL in 2020. In 2019, RSL had too many wingers, in 2020 they do not have enough. The loss of Jefferson Savarino, although not official, is detrimental to the roster. Who will fill the void left by him? Chances are it will not be one player, it will have to be a team effort. Will Donny Toia learn how to not turn the ball over so carelessly? Does Ashtone Morgan beat Toia out of the starting left-back position?
All those questions need answering.
The bottom line is that RSL is in a good place. The guidance of Juarez and Fall at the helm has RSL in a position to compete for an MLS Cup. Will it happen in year one? Probably not. Although, as my mother used to tell me, patience is a virtue. I believe that RSL’s time is just around the corner.
"Overall, very good at what we wanted to accomplish."
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) February 2, 2020
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