The Irvine edition of Real Salt Lake’s preseason has seen some twists. First of all, Joao Plata joined the club, and has seen some action with his new squad. The early reports? He’s short and he’s fast! And he’s comfortable, and good with the ball at his feet.
A couple of surprising developments have also occured. First came the announcement that Tony Beltran, and Kyle Beckerman are rejoining the squad for their first preseason sessions with their club. That means neither player will be heading to Honduras for the USMNT match on Feb 6th. With January camp breaking, it’s not all that surprising that Beltran is heading back, but Beckerman has become such a mainstay of Klinsmann’s squad that you expect him to be involved now every time the US men take the pitch. But the US team’s loss is RSL’s gain, as his presence on the training field is no doubt helpful to all the youngsters on the team.
Unfortunately, bad news came Monday in the form of a knee injury to Javier Morales. The injury occured in the scrimmage against the Danish U-20 team, and we were told yesterday that it was being evaluated. It looks like the result is that the RSL playmaker will miss 4-6 weeks. Get well, Javier!
The final surprise of the week was the announcement of Josh Saunders joining the team on Saturday. The former LA Galaxy keeper was released this offseason after LA announced the addition of former Tottenham keeper Carlo Cudicini. My understanding is that Saunders has a legitimate shot to nail down the #2 spot behind Rimando. However, it may come down to finances. Saunders made $75K last season, whereas Jeff Attinella, Lalo Fernandez and trialist Mark Pais are more likely to warrant near the league minimum.
However, if Nick Rimando’s stellar play keeps him on the radar of the USMNT, this could be another year where the veteran keeper sees time away from the club for international duty. Having an experienced backup like Saunders couldn’t hurt, right? What are your thoughts on this new addition.