This week, Randal Serr generously donated some of his time to talk to us about soccer. And not just any old soccer mind you, this is Major League Soccer. Real Salt Lake visits FC Dallas at home in Frisco this weekend. We had some questions for him. He answered them. Let's dive straight into it:
Big D Soccer 1) After losing Jason Kreis and Garth Lagerway, RSL was in for a rocky transition period. What is the outlook for RSL regarding players and coaches now that we are more than halfway through 2015?
RSL Soapbox: The outlook is somewhat optimistic but yet to be determined. I am giving new head coach Jeff Cassar and very new General Manager Craig Waibel the benefit of the doubt since they really are just starting to implement their own changes this year. 2015 has been a rough year for RSL fans that are used to consistent success and making the MLS Playoffs every year. There are some fans that are calling for Jeff Cassar to be fired. There are some other fans that do not like that owner Dell Loy Hansen has, in their words, let Kreis and Lagerwey go. Nor do they like the trickle down effect on many of the RSL staff. At the end of the day, All of the new RSL brass are different from the old RSL brass and the jury is out as to whether or not their approach will be successful. I, personally, think that Real Salt Lake has some very promising youth and that when healthy, RSL can play with any team in this league.
BDS2) Tell us which new RSL faces should FCD fans be watching this weekend in Frisco?
RSB: The newest face to watch is Juan Manuel (Burrito) Martinez. He landed in Salt Lake City this past Friday and by all accounts has acclimated very quickly with the team. Veteran Real Salt Lake Players are saying that he is an extremely intelligent player and that his touch is top notch. He most recently played with arguably the best club in South America, Boca Juniors. He is 29, so he has a lot of good years left to play and he has something to prove. In 2010 he, along with someone name Lionel Messi, was awarded the Argentine Footballer of the Year in 2010. So the hype is there. Let's see if it plays out according to plan. It is unclear whether he will start or come off the bench, but he will almost certainly feature.
BDS3) RSL made a deep run to the US Open Cup semifinals and has since started play in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. How is Jeff Cassar juggling the additional playing time and travel since every point left in the MLS regular season matters as Real is fighting for a playoff spot?
RSB: The truth is he played the best available XI when it mattered most and he played younger and less experienced players when his hand was forced. In Jeff Cassar's own words, he can't run his players into the ground. The best players have to rest at some point, especially during stretches of five games in 15 days. Now that RSL is out of Open Cup and they are as healthy as they have been all season, things should be a little bit easier. The position that took the biggest hit was the center back position. There were plenty of games when Real Salt Lake was putting its fourth and/or fifth preferred defender in the starting lineup. Not that they played poorly, it was more that there were silly errors made and you can't expect consistently good play from inexperienced players. The problem now is that every remaining MLS game is important since RSL is fighting to make the playoffs and CONCACAF has always been a high prioriity for this club so every game from here on out is valuable. The best scenario would be that RSL rotate good players in different positions from game to game and that they get enough points in their CONCACAF group to secure advancement and not have to play their best players in the last game.
Thanks for reading, leave a comment, and Go Go FCD!