2018 Season Preview: Real Salt Lake

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Kyle Beckerman
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Kyle Beckerman /

Real Salt Lake look to use the 2018 MLS Season to re-establish themselves as a force to reckoned with in the Western Conference.

Real Salt Lake rounded out their 2017 season like they had been fired out of a cannon. Things finally came together for head coach Mike Petke and club in July, which helped RSL finish out the season going 8-4-3 in their last 15 games after going 5-2-12 in their first 19. Petke will look to build on that strong finish as the team shifts its focus on a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs and beyond.

2017 Recap

Record: 13-6-15

Finishing Position: 8th in the Western Conference. 14th in the Overall Table.

Postseason Finish: N/A

Real Salt Lake’s 2017 season was a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows. What started as a slow transition following the 2016 season was sped up when Mike Petke was given the reins in late March.

On top of the coaching change, injuries plagued the roster along with international call-ups, causing the club to test everyone on the roster regularly, including their young academy talents and MLS SuperDraft picks, most of whom were expected to see limited meaningful minutes.

While the losses were many (and often times by multiple goals), the spring revealed the roster’s character and overall talent. The club then used the Summer Transfer Window to shore up positions of need with winger Jefferson Savarino and defender Marcelo Silva. Both Savarino and Silva made an immediate impact with RSL, each playing a major part in the club’s climb up the table. Once the team was relatively healthy, the club went on an absolute tear.

Ultimately, their efforts would fall just short, as the team missed the MLS playoffs by a mere point, but the quick rise and turnaround gave Real Salt Lake nation a lot to look forward to in 2018.

Transfers Out

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  • Matt Van Oekel (declined)
  • Chris Schuler (declined)
  • Reagan Dunk (declined)
  • Justin Schmidt (declined)
  • Omar Holness (declined)
  • Chad Barrett (declined)
  • Ricardo Velazco (declined)
  • Chris Wingert (declined)

Transfers In

  • Aaron Herrera (Homegrown)
  • Taylor Peay (Real Monarchs SLC)
  • Brooks Lennon (transfer from Liverpool)
  • Alfredo Ortuño (free)
  • Corey Baird (Homegrown)
  • Adam Henley (free)
  • Shawn Berry (free)
  • Pablo Ruiz (transfer from San Luis)
  • Damir Kreilach (free)

Predicted Starting XI

2018 Predictions

Real Salt Lake have one of the most intriguing rosters in MLS ahead of 2018. Not only does the club already rely on promising young talent in Albert Rusnák, Joao Plata, and Savarino, but RSL now has eight Academy graduates on the roster, most of which are expected to contribute significantly in the new year.

Along with their young core and academy standouts, Real Salt Lake acquired former Blackburn fullback, Adam Henley, who at 23 years of age is expected to compete for time at right back in place of the injured Tony Beltran.

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While the youth creates a bright future for RSL, the front office has done exceptionally well in surrounding them with experienced veterans, much like the addition of Marcelo Silva last summer. Damir Kreilach and Alfredo Ortuño were both brought in as TAM players and will be expected to make an impact from early on. Combine them with several MLS veterans who round out the roster, and you won’t want to sleep on Real Salt Lake in 2018.

Predicted Finish: 3rd in the Western Conference.