For years Real Salt Lake has been the prime example of consistency in Major League Soccer. From the team's on-field performance to its roster. Each season, you saw the same players, wearing the same numbers with the same RSL shield on their jerseys.
This season could be a little different.
Real lost a number of key contributors in the offseason. Robbie Russel was traded to DC United while Jean Alexandre was sent off to San Jose. Collen Warner was selected by Montreal in the expansion draft while Arturo Alvarez was taken in the re-entry draft. Then you have the retiement of Andy Williams, RSL's first pick in the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft, who now works in the team's front office. All together, that's 4 goals, 12 assists and nearly 7000 minutes of first team playing time lost.
Filling those holes will be difficult. However, change is a good thing. Remember that.
RSL had a successful SuperDraft, taking attacking midfielder Enzo Martinez with their first pick. He was the top choice on Williams' draft board so you can only imagine how stoked RSL was to see him when they picked at No. 17. RSL rounded out the SuperDraft by taking defender Diogo de Almeida out of Southern Methodist University and midfielder Sebastian Velasquez, a midfielder from Los Angeles who played at Spartanburg Methodist College.
Then you take into play RSL's picks in the supplemental draft and you're looking at a bunch of new faces on the pitch this season.
But let's not hit the panic button just yet.
There are still a ton of guys who've been around and know how RSL works. Jason Kreis is one of the best coaches in Major League Soccer. To think he can't handle a little bit of change to his roster would be insane. If the young guys and draft picks don't work out, expect RSL to make a few more roster moves.
This week at practice, I spoke with players and all of them told me this kind of change is a good thing. Captain Kyle Beckerman called it a "breath of fresh air." And KB knows what he's talking about.
RSL opens up the season on the road at the Galaxy on March 10, a game you can see on ABC4. Real's home opener is a week later against New York, another contest you'll be able to catch on Channel 4.
Follow me on Twitter @emersonlotzia and on Facebook www.facebook.com/emersonlotzia
Thanks for reading!