Tuesday, February 05, 2008

RSL Making Progress

Heading into Real Salt Lake's fourth season I'm encouraged by the progress that is being made. Not necessarily the progress of the stadium, although it is gorgeous. Nor is the prospect of players like recently drafted Tony Beltran augmenting the lineup shining hope into my outlook of the year.

What I am most encouraged by is the level headed maturity that is being shown by head coach Jason Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey when they talk about the prospects of the coming season.

Rather than bellowing out bold statements of success and guaranties of things he can't entirely control - such as assuring that RSL will make the playoffs - Kreis, in a recent Deseret Morning News article, instead promised that the team would be fitter and mentally stronger. Those are things the coach can for sure control.

Another positive sign of growth is RSLs lack of reliance on single star players. Names like Mathis, Cunningham, Adu, and even Kreis himself, during his playing days, were given as proof that RSL would be successful and win games in years past. And, although a lot of focus has been centered onto the Argentine triple of Fabian Espindola, Matias Mantilla, and Javier Morales, this year the focus is on the team. Kyle McCarthy, over at www.goal.com mentioned in a recent article that RSL is looking to follow the strategy of teams like Houston and New England by building a foundation of young and inexpensive American talent. Both the Dynamo and Revolution have shown the rest of the league how to be successful, and that putting the focus on the team is the way to go. Considering both of those sides have made MLS Cup the last two years running, it would be a safe lead to follow.

Success for Real may not be the playoffs this season, although in reality it should be, but the signs are good that it will be a better year for the Salt Lake side.