2015 MLS season preview: Real Salt Lake

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  • Qualified for MLS Cup Playoffs every year since 2008
  • In 2014, finished 3rd in Western Conference
  • Knocked out by LA Galaxy (5-0) in conference semifinals

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015 ]

Key player: Alvaro Saborio

60 goals in 113 MLS appearances, including 37 in 63 over his last three seasons. It’s near impossible to find a striker in MLS that can match Saborio’s consistent contributions. Only problem is, he averages 22 appearances per season, mostly because of a checkered past of injuries and partly because of Costa Rican national team call-ups. This year, the difference between 30 starts and 20 starts for Saborio in 2015, is the difference between RSL continuing their playoff streak and missing out for the first time since 2007.

Other names to watch: Javier Morales, Sebastian Jaime, Kyle Beckerman and Chris Schuler

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Head coach: Jeff Cassar

The job Cassar did in year one, keeping RSL from missing a beat after Jason Kreis departed for New York City FC, was Coach of the Year-worthy work. The system, the ethos, the identity of the club didn’t change and they were successful for it. Now, Nat Borchers, Ned Grabavoy and Chris Wingert, three long-time starters, are gone. Can Cassar now make RSL his own, rather than continuing where Kreis left off?

Outlook for 2015

It felt wrong to do it, but I’ve got RSL on the outside of the playoffs, looking in. That said, so much of the West’s playoff picture revolves around the Portland Timbers. The ceiling for Portland feels so much higher than the likes of RSL, Vancouver and others, but the floor is rock-bottom low. With RSL, we always know what we’re gonna get, so it’s always feel like such a “safe” pick.