Real Salt Lake concluded the Desert Diamond Cup action with a 1-0 loss to Seattle in the Cup final. That’s unfortunately a score that RSL has become accustomed to in big games as of late (although this game hardly fits into that category.
As this leg of preseason started, the team had four questions that it needed to answer in my opinion.
The first question was who will fill in for Javier Morales at the top of the diamond? The candidates included Sebastian Velasquez, Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil and Khari Stephenson. Based on this tournament and particularly his performance in the final, the apparent winner would be Velasquez. Of course, we haven’t seen much of Gil who has been away on international duty.
The second question is which player will get the opportunity to play alongside Alvaro Saborio as the 2nd forward: Candidates included Robbie Findley, Joao Plata and Olmes Garcia. The early returns were for Plata who had a terrific first half against New York earlier in the tournament. However, Findley seemed to grab those reigns and had a good first half in the final. Garcia will likely need some time to acclimate.
The third question was which newcomer is most likely to come off of the bench in the midfield. Stephenson, rookie John Stertzer and third year man Cole Grossman were in consideration for this role. Jury is perhaps out on this one. Grossman had some good moments in the tournament. Stephenson is the experienced one and started in the final. I’m routing a bit for the underdog, Stertzer. Only time will tell.
The fourth question comes on the back line. Which fullback will start opposite Tony Beltran? The two options involved are Kenny Mansally and Lovell Palmer. Mansally appears to have the inside track and played the full 90 tonight. I liked Palmer’s performance against New England, and was a bit surprised that he didn’t at least see some time in this one.
What about you? Who do you got for these four roles?