Two more players have entered their names among the already lengthy list of players battling for a permanent roster spot in Real Salt Lake’s outside-back stable.
Former D.C. United defender Kasali Casal (above right) and Lance Laing (left), who spent last season with the NASL's Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, arrived at RSL's preseason camp this week, giving coach Jason Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey more options to consider for their final two roster spots.
“We have 26 roster spots,” Lagerwey told MLSsoccer.com of the team’s self-imposed ideal roster structure. “We don’t have any to spare. We’re looking right now to have four outside backs on the team, to have four center backs on the team, to have three goalkeepers and then you’ve got some flexibility with the number of midfielders and the number of forwards.”
“Beltran and Wingert are the guys that we have signed currently at outside back,” he added. “Obviously Schuler can play there, but he’s a full-time center back.”
That leaves a maximum of two roster spots available for the various hopefuls competing for the final outside back places. In addition to Casal and Laing, RSL are currently looking at Terukaza Tanaka and second-round SuperDraft pick Diogo de Almeida. Samir Bengelloun, Wes Knight and Mike Banner have already left camp after being evaluated.
But even their departures don't guarantee that they’re out of the running.
“What we did was took a bunch of veteran guys in for the first training camp, and we’re going to bring a couple of new guys in for this training camp. At the end of this training camp, we’re going to make decisions as to who we like the best,” Lagerwey explained.
According to Lagerwey, allowing veteran players to depart camp in order to explore other options is all part of the process once the staff has a good idea of what each player brings to the table.
Most of the candidates have been left-footed. Only Tanaka and Knight are right-foot dominant. Being left-footed is not an absolute requirement, but would be a big plus based on RSL's current needs.
“In a perfect world, if we added a left-footed player, that would be great,” Lagerwey said. “But we’ve still got to do what’s best for the team. If we’re able to add a left-footed player that’s a fit, then that’s great. If on the other hand the guys that play on the right side are clearly better, then we’d probably have to go with them.”
For Casal and Laing, the quest to prove that they’re the right fit begins Wednesday night at the Desert Diamond Cup when RSL take on the New York Red Bulls. And with the amount of competition they’ll be up against, it goes without saying that the burden of proof will be high.