Part 2 in a 5-part series.
When people think of Real Salt Lake soccer, they think attacking soccer. However, despite their defensive struggles on the road, you may be surprised to hear that the team gave up just 11 goals at home last season, only one shy of the league’s best mark.
The following is a breakdown of RSL’s goalkeepers and defenders for the 2010 season. While team defense starts with the forwards and midfielders checking back, the team’s last line of defense is the focus here.
Nick Rimando: He has enjoyed a lengthy MLS career. Despite his smaller stature, Rimando has made his mark with good feet, quick reflexes and solid distribution. His penalty-kick performances during the 2009 postseason are now RSL lore.
Kyle Reynish: The departure of Chris Seitz had a lot to do with the staff’s confidence in Reynish. Unlike Rimando, he has good size. He lacks, however, any significant game experience which could be an issue if forced into duty.
Tim Melia: A young prospect who has cut his teeth during the last two seasons in lower-division soccer. He has performed well during the preseason, but RSL would prefer that he not be pressed into service this season.
Nat Borchers: The stalwart in the center of defense. He’s always reliable, and very steady. His professional experience comes is a calming influence on the back line.
Jámison Olave: A physically imposing force in the back for RSL. His recovery ability and aggressive tackles leave everyone holding their breath. More often than not, he’s there to save the day in the nick of time.
Tony Beltran: A young left back who saw a lot of time as a starter last season. He has good pace and solid one-on-one defensive technique. Beltran also gets forward well and is starting to become more comfortable in this role.
Chris Wingert: A versatile player who can play either fullback spot. Wingert likes to get forward, and is adept at getting off crosses when he does. Although not the speediest of players, his veteran knowledge helps to compensate for this.
Robbie Russell: Another versatile defender who has Champions League experience on his resume. He picks his spots well, and can make a variety of plays when he gets forward. We last saw him falling to his knees and pumping his arms after making the decisive penalty kick at MLS Cup 2009.
David Horst: An athletic and speedy center back who came to Real Salt Lake in 2008 as a raw prospect. His few opportunities in his first two seasons came with some shaky moments. RSL hopes that he can shrug this off and become a contributor.
Rauwshan McKenzie: Picked up off waivers from Kansas City. McKenzie is hoping to find a home with this club, and show what he has what it takes.
Chris Schuler: A very tall, physical defender drafted in the third round out of Creighton. He’s likely to experience a bit of a learning curve but has a lot of the tools necessary to be a strong center back in MLS.
Next: Part 3, Midfielders