2010 Outlook for Real Salt Lake
With the signing of the collective bargaining agreement, and then after watching the Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders kick off the season on Wednesday night, I officially have Real Salt Lake on the brain. Most of the preseason conversation has revolved around whether the 2009 cup title was a one and down deal, and how the team will react to the departure of Yura Movsisyan.
Here are some of things that I've been thinking about for the upcoming RSL season.
With the exception of the 2009 playoffs, and possibly the extreme latter part of the 2008 regular season, consistency has never been a word that describes Real Salt Lake. As head coach Jason Kreis has mentioned in the news recently, last year RSL was a slightly below .500 team. The necessary player talent is on the roster, and I believe that we're seeing Kreis developing into one of the great young coaches in this country. Everything seems to be in place for RSL to compete and win. Now the players need to prove that the MLS Cup winners badge on their shirts isn't a fluke.
2. Can wins be found on the road
Going 2-11-2 on the road is dismal, and can not be expected to get the team back into the playoffs. A positive thought is that the 2009 playoffs largely took place outside of Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL was forced to come up with results on the road in Columbus and Chicago. Those results should help with confidence. Combine that with the fact that the 2010 champaign opens on the road with the West's weakest team, there is no better opposition with which to gain confidence for the rest of the summer.
3. Will CCL or US Open Cup be taken seriously
This question has been lingering in my brain since coming down from the whole cup victory. Historically, not many MLS teams take the Open Cup seriously until that later rounds. As far as the CONCACAF Champions League, that's a mixed bag. I don't think it will come down to whether RSL will take the competition seriously, I think it will all depend on how the MLS season is going when the Champions League begins in August. With MLS rosters as they are at this point in time, the teams realistically don't have the depth to simultaneously be competitive in league and Champions League play. If RSL is sitting in a comfortable spot toward the top of the MLS table in August, than I would expect to be able to afford to rest their starters for MLS matches and make some noise in the Champions League.