SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake are still looking for a midfielder ahead of the 2022 season.
Throughout the successful 2022 campaign, Real Salt Lake were frequently exposed to counterattacks following weak turnovers of possession and were never able to adapt. Manager Pablo Mastroeni was eventually forced to change the formation back to the more conservative 4-2-3-1.
However, Mastroeni has expressed interest in playing with a more aggressive attitude. Ideally, Real Salt Lake in 2022 will be an attacking juggernaut capable of creating goal-scoring opportunities through a number of different avenues while maintaining a defensive structure.
More depth needed
The return of Everton Luiz will strengthen the defensive presence in midfield. Luiz and Pablo Ruiz have both shown signs of promise playing side by side. But Real Salt Lake cannot rely on Luiz and Ruiz like they did in 2021. The club needs more depth.
Luiz, otherwise known to some as “The Enforcer”, will likely be paramount to the organization’s success. Luiz was unavailable for selection for the Western Conference Finals due to an accumulation of yellow cards and his presence was sorely missed.
The aggressive Brazilian is fierce, skilful and his style of play is contagious. Each time he sees the field, the energy of the group of players is significantly higher. However, Luiz frequently finds himself in trouble throughout the season due to the abundance of yellow cards he receives. He is unfortunately not a reliable player due to his violent style of play.
Ruiz, on the other hand, is most comfortable when football is at his feet. His ability to throw balls from one side of the pitch to the other, to feed an attacking player behind the defense is world class. The problem with relying on Ruiz to be the solution is his age, he’s still only 23 and developing as a midfielder.
Ruiz was brought to Real Salt Lake in 2018 and started his Major League Soccer career at left-back before being loaned to Austrian club FC Pinzgau Saalfelden. Upon his return, he was inserted into the heart of the midfield where he has been ever since. His development and understanding of the position is still ongoing and as good as he gets, it’s still likely he’ll have to dominate the heart of the pitch in a few years.
Nick Besler has also spent a lot of time in midfield throughout 2021. He feels and looks the most comfortable in the role and was able to set up several games where he was in talks for the best on field. Consistency has always been the problem with Besler. One night he looks like he’s in total control, the next night he’s not.
Besler will still play a central role for Real Salt Lake in 2022. His leadership, guidance and experience will be needed as Real Salt Lake searches for answers in the heart of the park. It’s likely, however, that Besler will do most of his damage off the bench this year.
Beckerman 2.0, please?
Real Salt Lake have been blessed with the services of Kyle Beckerman for as long as they have. Beckerman was not only a great footballer, but a tremendous leader and motivator. A disciplined six, who has the ability to provide a spark when moving the ball forward, but who cares more about team structure and organization, is exactly what Real Salt Lake is currently lacking. .
Real Salt Lake is currently in Tucson, Arizona preparing for the 2022 season. The club will return to Utah on February 2 after playing practice games against Grand Canyon University and the Houston Dynamo on January 26. February 2 respectively.
The first game of the 2022 season is scheduled for February 28 when they travel to Houston. On March 6, Real Salt Lake will host Seattle in the season opener at home.