Real Salt Lake Laments Injuries, Depth As 2022 Campaign Collapses

Sep 19, 2022, 2:40 PM
Pablo - Mastroeni - Real - Salt - Lake...
Pablo Mastroeni on the sidelines during the 2-1 loss to FC Cincinnati at America First Field on September 17. (Photo by Laura Dearden/Real Salt Lake)
(Photo by Laura Dearden/Real Salt Lake)

SALT LAKE CITY – The second half of the 2022 MLS regular season has taught Real Salt Lake a painful lesson; in order to keep up with the pack, they must spend more money on its roster.

The season began with blistering form as the club enjoyed a long spell near the top of the Western Conference, however, as the season progressed their form quickly slowed and cracks began to appear.

Most notably, it became apparent that the club did not possess an adequate third center back. Nor did they have a true defensive midfielder. They also failed to capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities.

The mishaps have resulted in the club likely missing out on the post-season as they currently sit on the outside looking in having only managed 4 victories over its previous 17 matches.

Ultimately, it has become apparent that the current state of the roster is not capable of reaching MLS supremacy.

Detrimental Season Ending Injuries

Season-ending injuries to Damir Kreilach and Bobby Wood have been catastrophic to the club. Kreilach was nominated as the captain prior to the season starting and has only managed to play in five games due to a back injury. Wood has only mustered 14 games after suffering an abductor injury that required surgery.

The losses of Kreilach and Wood have proven detrimental to the club’s 2022 aspirations.

Historically, Real Salt Lake has relied on its impressive Academy to push for success. But in a new era of MLS, where the better clubs are not afraid to splash the cash on high-profile signings, Real Salt Lake must consider a slightly different approach.

Real Salt Lake will always be a mid-market club that will likely never be able to attract the likes of Gareth Bale, Federico Bernardeschi, or Xherdan Shaqiri. But the club does not require some of the world’s biggest names to win trophies, rather, Real Salt Lake needs to find a balance of playing quality Homegrown prospects and exciting young international prospects.

Biggest Signing In Club History Performs

The biggest signing in club history is Jefferson Savarino, who broke his own club record fee when he returned earlier this year from Atlético Mineiro. It was reported that Savarino re-signed with RSL for $2.5 million and following a terrific 2022 campaign his costly price tag paid dividends with his play on the pitch.

But when RSL is competing with the likes of similar mid-market clubs such as the Colombus Crew, who paid English side, Watford, a reported $10 million for Colombian international Cucho Hernandez, the road to silverware is far too steep and challenging. 

Nevertheless, Real Salt Lake is only a few players away from potentially being a serious contender in MLS. With another offseason, 18-year-old Jaziel Orozco or 20-year-old Zack Farnsworth may be the perfect candidate to take over as the third center back on the roster.

Real Salt Lake Roster Needs

The club is desperate for a true defensive midfielder, one that resembles the likes of club great Kyle Beckerman to further solidify the midfield and allow Pablo Ruiz, Jasper Löffelsend, and Braian Ojeda the freedom to play in the attacking half.

In the attacking third, RSL will need to inject youth into an ageing attacking roster. Justin Meram will turn 34 in December, Maikel Chang will turn 32 early next year, and Bobby Wood is about to hit the 30-milestone.

Sergio Córdova is on a season long loan from Bundesliga side FC Augsburg and will return to Germany at the conclusion of the season. While Rubio Rubin is yet to prove that he can be relied upon to start and star as the starting striker. Anderson Julio, 26, has only managed 3 starts in 18 appearances while Jonothan Menéndez was loaned to Argentina side Atlético Vélez during the summer window. 

Danny Musovski is yet to prove his quality after joining the club in the final days of the summer transfer window.

Savarino is the only player on the RSL roster that plays in the attacking third that has a respected and proven track record at an appropriate age.

Next Real Salt Lake Match

Real Salt Lake will play a friendly against Liga MX side Atlas on Thursday, September 22, at 8 p.m.

The next MLS game for RSL will be on the road against LA Galaxy on Saturday, October 1st. MLS joins the international soccer window and will endure a week of FIFA international games ahead of the FIFA World Cup in November.

The final game of the regular season will be at America First Field against Portland Timbers on Decision Day.

Both MLS games remaining will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports and KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.

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