SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake founder and co-owner Dave Checketts admitted recently that his squad isn’t likely to make a splashy Designated Player signing anytime in the future. Instead, the team is actively managing roster turnover to make sure it doesn’t get caught with a team too old to compete.
RSL have found success in recent years primarily by building a talented core and keeping that core intact in order to foster some consistency and familiarity.
But the squad lost a couple of those mainstays during the offseason when they shipped defender Robbie Russell to D.C. United and midfielder Andy Willams announced his retirement.
“What you don’t want to be in is a situation where you’ve kept your core together so long that you’re in last place at some point,” Checketts told reporters after the team’s workout last Friday. “So the transition really starts, and we’re going to see if we can have our cake and eat it too. That’s really what it’s about.”
RSL have one DP on their roster in Álvaro Saborío and could one day elevate playmaker Javier Morales to that status, but it doesn’t mean they’re out to sign any more.
“We have a Designated Player in Saborío, and fully intend on keeping Morales, too, which is probably going to put him into that same neighborhood at some point,” Checketts said. “But the notion of us going out and getting [Thierry] Henry or [Rafa] Márquez, or our payroll going to $15 million is just not in the cards. It’s not in the cards at this point because between building the stadium, buying the franchise, the operating losses – the owners have already contributed a significant amount of capital.”
So while the team has some resource limitations, Checketts believes it’s not an indication that the squad won’t continue to find success and retain its status among the elite in the league.
“It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible,” he said. “Our starting XI this year I think is on par with any in the league. And now we’ve got all this opportunity where these young guys are going to be able to step up and show what they can do. And I think we’ve got some guys that might really be able to develop into key role players and maybe more.”