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Real Salt Lake Player Insights from Preseason

With the preseason firmly in the rearview mirror and the team’s sights set solely on the start of the regular season many have begun the question what will become of this Real Salt Lake squad?

Well, the team went undefeated in the preseason, defeating the likes of Chicago Fire, Los Angeles FC and El Paso Locomotive, while earning draws against Sporting Kansas City and Sacramento Republic. Real Salt Lake scored a combined 13 goals while limiting its opponents to just three.

Offensively, Bertin Jacquesson, Braian Ojeda, Bryan Oviedo, Andrés Gómez and Jefferson Savarino all netted two goals apiece, while Damir Kreilach led the way with two assists.

So, what does this all mean?

As previously mentioned in our preseason recap, these preseason match results do little to indicate the true viability of a team. Rather, they gave the coaching staff and players a chance to build chemistry, set mentality and provide a place for guys to step up and show what they can offer.

Resident Real Salt Lake expert, Vice President of Communications Trey Fitz-Gerald, traveled with the team throughout all of preseason. Fitz-Gerald, who is about to begin his 17th season with the Club, provided some valuable insight and updates from preseason as to where each of the players stand heading into the first game of the season.


Zac MacMath: The 2022 Iron Man, who received surgery in the offseason is finally nearing full-strength. The goalkeeper, who recorded the fourth-most clean sheets and the sixth-most saves for the league in 2023 will look to return as the Club’s go-to reliable shot blocker.

Tomas Gomez: Despite sitting as the backup to MacMath for all of 2022, this preseason Gomez proved to be a reliable backup option, showing well in the minutes he received, keeping clean sheets in three of his four appearances.

Gavin Beavers: The U-19 United States Men’s National team goalkeeper has yet to be tested much, but in all three appearances has made key saves to keep RSL in control, including against the defending MLS Cup Champions LAFC.

Center Backs

Justen Glad: Glad is everything you would expect from a guy with 10 years at RSL, he is quickly nearing his 200th appearance and aiming to be in contention for a MLS All-Star, Best XI defender and choice for the United States Men’s National Team.

Marcelo Silva: As the second-longest tenured player at Real Salt Lake, Silva enters the year as a solid veteran who can provide leadership, mentorship, and a strong voice amongst the group.

Erik Holt: The former UCLA Bruin returned to Utah as a slimmed-down version of himself with a non-stop engine and exquisite passing skill. The preseason he rarely took a step wrong even when surrounded by younger and less-experienced defenders.

Delentz Pierre: The new Homegrown from the University of Portland has impressed with his growth over 4-5 weeks of preseason in his return to Utah. He has played both left back and center back, proving to be an athletic force in both positions.

Outside Backs

Andrew Brody: The 2022 Real Salt Lake Defender of the Year is currently working his back from muscle injury that delayed his preseason. However, despite starting later than his teammates he has managed to bring his usual pace, speed, guile and service from both left and right sides, proving to be a dangerous threat up and down the sidelines.

Bode Hidalgo: Last year’s most improved may in fact be one of the best players this preseason, his preseason showed that he is continuing his rapid ascent as a MLS-caliber contributor.

Bryan Oviedo: RSL’s lone representative at the 2022 FIFA World Cup solidly entered preseason as a strong veteran, pacing himself in preseason, rarely taking off-step in recovery from Qatar.

Defensive Midfielders

Braian Ojeda: U-22 Initiative midfielder, on loan from Premier League side Nottingham Forest, emerged as an immense dynamo who announces his presence in every 50/50 ball, every duel, and every field switch.

Pablo Ruiz: The Argentine midfielder utilized preseason to recapture his form from the first half of 2022, with precise passing, defensive stops. He is also quickly reaching the ability to consistently launch 25-yard shots into the back of the goal.

Scott Caldwell: In his second year with RSL, Caldwell is as smooth as ever, stabilizing the midfield as a true six. When next to young players he provides leadership and guidance.

Moses Nyeman: Newcomer from SK Beveren consistently overcomes size disadvantage with bulldog tenacity to stop opponents. He is a good dribbler, poses anticipatory passing and keeps ball moving

Jasper Löffelsend: Non-stop engine for dynamic two-way midfielder who burst onto MLS scene in 2022, seizing opportunity provided by injury and depth issues; Jasper is excellent in tight spaces after winning balls, while his relentless pursuit in attack gobbles up space, constantly creating chances

Central Midfielders

Damir Kreilach: The team captain who missed almost all of 2022 has done everything necessary to set himself up for a return to the field, starting the majority of the preseason matches he played in. He is always goal-dangerous and the Club’s top communicator on and off the field

Diego Luna: Whether playing centrally or out on left, Luna has enjoyed an excellent preseason in Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni’s mind. He is growing as a player and person in all aspects.


Jefferson Savarino: The Venezuelan Designated Player is one of the most dominant players on the pitch regardless of opponent. The fluid winger is equally comfortable on either side, using either foot to shoot or pass, often cutting inside, floating underneath, or stretching behind defenses

Andrés Gómez: Gómez is likely the fastest player on RSL, ahead of even Anderson Julio and Justen Glad. The young Colombian winger might remind some of Joao Plata or Olmes Garcia, as Andres creates danger on either wing, setting up teammates or finishing chances himself.

Justin Meram: The team’s leading assist provider in 2022 is continuing his form from 2022. As a starter, or off the bench, Meram mixes the attack, drives 1v1 and frees space to cross and shoot. There is nothing he hasn’t seen or done before.

Maikel Chang: Cuban midfielder Chang is solid, calm, comfortable, working both sides of the ball – simply unflappable. He has continued to provide assists from the wing, playing on both the left and right sides.

Bertin Jacquesson: The rookie improves every day, putting up highlight reel goals against LAFC and El Paso Locomotive. He is working on combining athleticism and speed with lessons learned from video along with his work rate via non-stop engine.


Rubio Rubín: Following a lost 2022 season, the Guatemalan international has enjoyed a stellar preseason, leading the press from the nine and staying connected with both Kreilach and the wingers, occupying space in the box, making fascinatingly dangerous runs, and converting from the PK spot.

Anderson Julio: The RSL speedster looks back to his 2021 form, utilizing speed and guile to stretch defenses and create space for Savarino, Rubin, Kreilach and Gómez.

Ilijah Paul: The first round pick from this year’s MLS SuperDraft combines brute force and athleticism. The young University of Washington product has been a problem for opposing defenses up top, playing with his back to goal and pressuring back lines.

So, what does it mean?

As aforementioned, it is difficult to decipher how a player may do solely based on their preseason experience, but it seems as if the team is heading in the right direction.

And if last year is any indicator, it is going to take every last player on the roster in order to make a run for a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Only time will tell just how far this team will go, but for the meantime it seems as if fans have reason to be excited for what is to come.

The guys will have their first opportunity to show what they’ve learned throughout preseason on Saturday, February 25 at 8:30 p.m. MT when they travel north to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Fans can tune into the game on Apple TV through the MLS Season Pass.