5 Bold Predictions for Real Salt Lake’s 2014 MLS Season
Real Salt Lake: 5 Bold Predictions for 2014
The roster might look very similar, but the big change in Sandy, Utah this year was the head coach. Jason Kreis moved onto a new challenge with NYCFC and Real Salt Lake decided to hire from within the organization. Jeff Cassar is the new coach and will have to follow the job done by Kreis that got this team to the MLS Cup last year. The consistency of the roster and emphasis on the team will allow RSL to be at the top of the league once again.
Something heard frequently from RSL is that the players are there for the name on the front of the jersey and this team mentality was in play when Cassar put together his assistant coaching staff. Andy Williams was a midfielder from 2005-2011 and the head scout for RSL in 2012 and 2013. Many members of the technical staff have been with RSL for three years or more. Cassar did his best not to shake up the team too much when a transition from Kreis could have been very difficult on the team.
RSL is about to embark on their last training stint on Feb. 19 as a participant in the 2014 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup with FC Tucson, New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids, Chivas USA and Chicago Fire. This will be the third-straight year that RSL has participated in this competition. It will include four days of triple-headers and the March 1 finals determining the Diamond Cup champion.
This should be the final preparation before a very successful season with 25 players returning from the 2013 Western Conference title team. Hopes are high among the Claret and Cobalt fans. They feel like they are in good hands and believe that this group will make a strong run into the playoffs once again.
5. Devon Sandoval Will Score More Than Alvaro Saborio
After 12 starts last season it was clear that Devon Sandoval could be an asset to RSL. He got his chance when Alvaro Saborio started his tour of duty for Costa Rica and then was injured. Sandoval was always working hard and rarely took plays off. As Matt Montgomery of RSL Soapbox has pointed out, the team is deferential to Saborio when he is in the lineup so they could force balls trying to get the striker an opportunity. Saborio will be called into World Cup action and is not getting any younger. Sandoval's ability to play into the flow of the system and link with a solid midfield will see him slot home plenty of shots this season.
4. Luis Gil Will Double His 2013 Point Total
After getting his first USMNT cap Luis Gil is being labeled by some as a future franchise player for RSL. Gil scored eight points last year with five of those being goals after notching over 400 more minutes of playing time than 2012. With his first senior camp out of the way he can focus on RSL. If Kyle Beckerman is called into duty in Brazil, then Gil could be called upon even more in the midfield diamond.
3. Jeff Attinella Will Record At Least One Shutout in 2014
There were several moving pieces last season for RSL and Jeff Attinella was one of them filling in for Nick Rimando. He will be called upon this year as Rimando travels to the World Cup. May 24 against FC Dallas could be the first match that Attinella starts with matches against the Columbus Crew and Chivas USA possible while Rimando is away. He is a quality backup and the team in front of him will play just as hard for Attinella.
2. The Colorado Rapids Will Not Score Against RSL in the Regular Season
The two teams will meet at the Diamond Cup in Tucson, so the Colorado Rapids better register a few goals against RSL. Last year Colorado played RSL tough so Cassar will have those results in mind when they play May 17, Aug. 2 and Sept. 19. The Rapids were a bit of a nemesis in 2013 and slowed RSL's run to the top spot in the Western Conference.
1. RSL Will Go Unbeaten During the Last Month of the Season
The final month of the season sets up well for RSL as they play Chivas USA twice and also matchup with the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers. In a highly competitive Western Conference these final four games will mean a playoff berth and positioning. There could be a draw with Portland, but the other three matches should be won by RSL to give them momentum into the playoffs.