RSL: Evaluating the team’s needs heading into the transfer window

KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 02: Justen Glad
KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 02: Justen Glad /
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Following another disappointing loss, this time at home to struggling Orlando City, it seems the curtain call has arrived for several RSL players.

The summer transfer window opens next week, and Real Salt Lake’s activity heading in has already been well covered. No need for an introduction, the team is making moves, and apparently have already made a signing. We go through each position, taking into consideration what the MLS Player’s Union says about their salaries, and evaluate the club’s needs.


SANDY, UT – MARCH 12: Goalie Nick Rimando
SANDY, UT – MARCH 12: Goalie Nick Rimando /

Depth Chart: Nick Rimando ($470,000), Matt Van Oekel ($96,000), Lalo Fernandez ($66,150)

Monarchs Players: Connor Sparrow, Andrew Putna

Goalkeeper, for once, is actually one of the most interesting positions on the team. Nick Rimando just turned 38 and is in the last year of his contract. The Wall of the Wasatch has still been playing at a high level and has one of the better goals-against averages in the league at 1.23 goals a game. Whether Rimando gets an extension or decides to move on from RSL (maybe to man the net for LAFC?), will likely be a discussion for another day. For now, expect Rimando to start between the sticks for the rest of the year.

Backup keeper Matt Van Oekel has had a rough start to his MLS career. After winning the 2016 Golden Glove award in NASL for best goalkeeper, Van Oekel showed well in his first start, a 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena, while Nick Rimando was with the national team. It’s been all downhill ever since, giving up a whopping 22 goals in just six matches (one being a 30-minute cameo against Atlanta United). All of those goals weren’t Van Oekel’s fault alone, and he has made a number of saves that would have made that number go up even more, but it remains to be seen if he’s an MLS caliber week-to-week starter or will be better suited as a backup. His salary doesn’t hurt either way.

Behind Van Oekel things are even more interesting. Long time RSL player Lalo Fernandez made his first team debut against Sacramento Republic in the Open Cup loss, despite being in his sixth season with the Claret & Cobalt. He’s only 24, but 23-year-old Connor Sparrow has been showing well with the Monarchs. They’ve split time this year, Fernandez with eight appearances and Sparrow with six (Andrew Putna has one start), but Sparrow has stood out a little bit more. The only reason it could matter is if one of them would be more likely to be the starting RSL keeper in the future or even the primary backup, and for now, it looks like maybe Sparrow has taken the lead in that regard. Only time will tell.

Verdict: Yeah, goalkeeper is going to be interesting over the next few months and seasons, but the odds we see any changes this summer are probably next to none.

Next: Defenders