The New York Red Bulls walked away with a 2-0 victory against the Portland Timbers in their first preseason match of 2017. An own goal and a PK are not the best ways to score, but hey; we’ll take it. Now the team will turn their focus to Real Salt Lake on January 31st. I caught up with Matt Montgomery of RSL Soapbox to get his take on last season and what has transpired so far in 2017.
Once a Metro: We haven't spoken since right before RSL beat RBNY 2-1 in mid-June. But RSL only won 4 of their remaining 19 games, then was booted in the knockout round against LA. What were some high and low points experienced by the fans during that time?
RSL Soapbox: Let's be honest: There weren't a whole lot of high points during that period. We went from looking genuinely effective to having our two most creative players essentially drop off the radar. Blame circled around — and probably rightly so, if we're being honest — and there was always something going wrong. Even the wins seemed like a bit of luck rolled our way. Since we last talked, we mutually terminated a designated player's contract (Juan Manuel Martinez), had a club legend engage in a public spat with management (Javier Morales), and couldn't manage to pull ourselves together at a vital time.
OaM: RSL picked up three SuperDraft picks, but were the first team to pass their selection with the 13th pick in the 3rd round. This pass excluded them from using their two 4th round picks as well. They only have 21 players on their roster and a USL team to field. Did they feel there was no more talent left? What is your take on the future of the SuperDraft?
RSLS: In talking with RSL general manager Craig Waibel, his thought was that he wanted the club to use draft picks on players who they genuinely felt had a chance at making the senior roster. We'll get into the roster with your next question, but the USL team will come together without too much trouble. They've already talked about bringing in college players who went undrafted, and there's a good chance they have a few signings waiting in the wings.
OaM: As just mentioned, RSL's roster is fairly light at 21 players, which includes only six midfielders. Are there any rumors on signings in the next few weeks to round out the roster? Possibly a Landon Donovan sighting?
Our midfield group right now might seem light, but here's how I'm reading it:
- Kyle Beckerman and Sunny are both starters in the two defense-minded midfield spots, week-in, week-out. They're backed up by Luke Mulholland and Omar Holness. Jose Hernandez is untested in MLS, but he was hugely impressive for UCLA last year, and his time at the RSL Academy makes him a strong prospect. Danilo Acosta is sometimes listed as a defender, but he's played in the midfield for Real Monarchs plenty, and that's where he made the biggest mark for the academy, too.
- Albert Rusnak is the starter in the central attacking midfield position, backed up by Luis Silva. Sebastian Saucedo could play there, as could Ricardo Velazco. Jordan Allen was pegged for that position, but it seems likely now that he'll be given a starting spot on the right wing.
That leaves us with nine potential midfielders, and definitely at least six. We probably do need one or two midfield reinforcements to round things out, but there's a sense that the club is interested in giving young players opportunities this season.
You can catch the match on MLS’ YouTube channel at 1:00 pm, Eastern, Tuesday 1/31.