Management around Rio Tinto knew this year would be a work in progress, a time of learning and lessons for young men who replaced the wily veterans around Real Salt Lake.
It’s not that the club deciders didn’t like Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola and Will Johnson, all of whom are doing wonderfully at their new MLS addresses. But the reality of a tight salary cap, plus a bit of competitive sticking point onto with the team had arrived, meant that RSL needed some roster adjustment.
It’s still quite early in all this, but the results of the roster rebuild are already coming to fruition for RSL.
Last night’s 2-1 result in Utah over Seattle got a little tight at the end, as the visitors offered a far, far better second-half account.
Jason Kreis’ team took a 2-0 lead into the break, but that lead could have easily been three or four goals. Only the outstanding work of Seattle goaltender Michael Gspurning, a very, very busy Austrian boy in the opening 45 minutes, kept it from being so.
So much of the threat came from a pair of RSL youngsters. Young midfielder Luis Gil, still just 19 years old, was an absolute show-stopper. His skill and industry, while operating high in Real’s midfield diamond, was evident all night (or, until he gave way for veteran Javier Morales after 62 minutes. And his goal (the eventual game-winner, which he is celebrating in the picture) was a work of training ground art, a corner kick sequence the side has surely rehearsed time and again.
Meanwhile, rookie forward Devon Sandoval, a 21-year-old bundle of skill, hair and energy. The rookie troubled Seattle’s back line with his hold-up work, intelligent runs and by helping arrange chances for others. He won’t get an assist on Robbie Findley’s early goal Saturday, but Sandoval certainly occupied a defender (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado), helping free up some space for Findley’s athletic put-away.
Highlights of Saturday’s win for Real Salt Lake: