How Will Freddy Juarez Handle The Center Back’s Moving Forward?
SANDY, Utah – Who knows when the MLS season will return, I am not entirely sure Done Garber, the commissioner, can even answer that question. The world is at a standstill, the cloud that has encapsulated the globe seems to only be getting darker. Fortunately, however, that gives us more time to talk about and discuss the very important questions relating to Real Salt Lake.
New head coach Freddy Juarez impressed during his first two games in charge earlier in the year, a 0-0 draw against Orlando City felt like a victory, and the 1-1 draw at home against the New York Red Bulls was a showcase of the attacking personnel of this team, despite the scoreline.
When Juarez took over the interim reigns following the ugly dismissal of Mike Petke, RSL was the best defensive soccer club in the league. Over the 15 game stretch, they only gave up 12 goals.
The partnership between Justen Glad and Nedum Onuoha was a big reason behind their defensive success.
However, the start of 2020 had a different feel to it.
Against Orlando City in the opening game, Juarez opted to play Glad at right-back with Onuoha and Marcelo Silva as the center-back duo. The move to play Glad as a full-back was interesting, however, a position that he is familiar with as that is where he played a large portion of his soccer with the RSL Academy growing up.
Against the New York Red Bulls in the second game, Glad was moved to the bench and Silva and Onuoha maintained their starting positions.
Is Juarez potentially thinking that the future for RSL is brighter with Silva and Onuoha as the two starting center backs?
On the recent episode of The Lions Den, myself and Spencer Warne (long time soccer expert who has followed Real Salt Lake since I can remember) discussed this subject matter-
“I think he [Justen Glad] is your third choice right-back when Aaron [Herrera] is injured or Alvin Jones is unavailable…I do not think you will see Glad play at right-back again unless we have some deep, deep injury problems,” Warne said.
Nonetheless, the team showed its capabilities during the first two games of 2020. A gritty performance on the road and a dominant display at home where they controlled 63 percent possession and outshot the Red Bulls 21 to 5.
Real Salt Lake is in a good spot. They are a team that seems to have a nice combination of youth and experience. There will likely be games throughout the season where they do not look like themselves, but I think that you will see more good performances than bad.
Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.
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