Real Salt Lake Still Searching For Key Midfield Figure As 2022 Season Approaches
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake is still searching for a holding midfielder ahead of the 2022 season.
Throughout the successful 2022 campaign, Real Salt Lake was frequently exposed to counter-attacks following poor turnovers of possession and was never able to adjust. Manager Pablo Mastroeni was ultimately forced to alter the formation back to the more conservative 4-2-3-1 as a result.
However, Mastroeni has expressed interest in playing with a more aggressive attitude. Ideally, Real Salt Lake in 2022 will be an offensive juggernaut capable of creating goal-scoring chances through a number of different avenues while also maintaining a defensive structure.
More Depth Needed
The return of Everton Luiz will bolster the defensive presence within the midfield. Both Luiz and Pablo Ruiz showed signs of promise when playing alongside one another. But Real Salt Lake cannot rely on Luiz and Ruiz as they did in 2021. The club needs more depth.
Luiz, otherwise known by some as “The Enforcer”, will likely be paramount to the success of the organization. Luiz was unavailable for selection for the Western Conference final due to yellow card accumulation and his presence was sorely missed.
The aggressive Brazilian is fierce, skillful, and his style of play is infectious. Whenever he sees the pitch, the energy amongst the playing group is notably higher. However, Luiz finds himself in trouble frequently throughout the season due to the abundance of yellow cards he receives. He, sadly, is not a reliable player due to his violent style of play.
Ruiz, on the other hand, is most comfortable when the football is at his feet. His ability to flick balls from one side of the pitch to the other, of feed an attacking player in behind the defense is world-class. The problem with relying on Ruiz to be the solution is his age, he is still just 23-years-old and developing as a holding midfielder.
Ruiz was brought into Real Salt Lake in 2018 and began his Major League Soccer career at left-back before going on loan to Austrian side FC Pinzgau Saalfelden. Upon return, he was slotted into the heart of the midfield where he has been ever since. His development and understanding of the position is still a work in progress and as good as he can be, he is still likely a handful of years away from dominating the heart of the pitch.
Nick Besler also saw a lot of time in the midfield throughout 2021. He feels and looks most comfortable in the role and was able to put together multiple games where he was in discussion for best on ground. Consistency has always been the issue with Besler. One night he looks to be in complete control, the next night he doesn’t.
Besler will still play a pivotal role for Real Salt Lake in 2022. His leadership, guidance, and experience will be needed as Real Salt Lake search for answers in the heart of the park. It is likely, however, that Besler does most of his damage off the bench this year.
Beckerman 2.0, Please?
Real Salt Lake was fortunate to have the services of Kyle Beckerman for as long as they did. Beckerman was not only a great footballer but a tremendous leader and motivator. A disciplined six, who has the ability to provide a spark when moving the ball forward, but is more concerned with the structure and organization of the team, is exactly what Real Salt Lake is currently missing.
Real Salt Lake is currently in Tucson, Arizona preparing for the 2022 season. The club will return to Utah on February 2nd after playing practice matches against Grand Canyon University and Houston Dynamo on January 26 February 2nd respectively.
The first match of the 2022 season is scheduled for 28 February when they travel to Houston. On March 6, Real Salt Lake will host Seattle in the home-season opener.
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