Real Salt Lake will be holding their first “Invite-Only Combine” in Casa Grande, Ariz., at the site of their youth development academy this week. The three-day camp will be held December 16-18 at Grande Sports World.
The team has limited senior roster spots open and little salary-budget flexibility with which to tinker, but league rosters will expand next season from 24 to 30 with the six additional spots going to developmental players. The combine will be a chance to fill that requirement.
“We want to try to establish this as a chance to evaluate college seniors, and also young players that may be out of college that have been coming to us looking for some sort of trial opportunity,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis told MLSSoccer.com. “We want to use it for, perhaps, out-of-contract foreign players that are looking for trial opportunities.”
One high profile non-academy player that was scheduled to attend the combine was Dustin Coreas, but after scoring the lone goal in El Salvador's U-20 win over Costa Rica on Saturday, the player will stay with La Azulita for the return leg at the Estadio Saprissa on Dec. 18.
But non-academy players and triallists looking to make an impression in Utah will not be only focus of RSL's staff.
“We would like to add in a couple of our academy players that we’re very high on and considering signing," Kreis said. “We haven’t had enough opportunities to watch those players play. [The combine] may be a good indication of what they may be like day-in and day-out training with professionals. You have to evaluate them not only from a playing perspective, but also from a psychological perspective.”
Should any of the RSL-Arizona academy players stand out during this combine, then there is a path out there for them to progress closer to joining the team as a home grown signing.
“If they could show well in [the combine], and if they’ve already shown well with Greg [Vanney, RSL-Az academy director] for a long time – probably the next logical step is to have them in preseason camp. And then we can look at them and decide if we want to sign them.”