Prior to Real Salt Lake’s 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday, RSL General Manager Craig Waibel joined the ESPN 700 pregame show to talk about the club’s announcement earlier that day that it had acquired FW Pedro Baez on loan from Cerro Porteno in his native Paraguay.
A 19-year-old striker with experience at the U-20 and U-23 National Team levels for Paraguay, Baez adds a different type of dimension to RSL’s attack. With Head Scout Andy Williams leading the charge, RSL has taken a liking to Baez for some time and is excited about what he brings to the club.
“What we saw was a really promising young player. He’s got a great build. Wonderful structure to his frame and he fits MLS in terms of strength and the athletic way we play,” Waibel said. “He’s very technical on the ball. Tactically, he’s really aware. I think pace is going to be the biggest question in terms of the best way we’re going to be able to use him within our system. I think a lot of it’s going to depend on what we see when he gets here.”
Williams scouted Baez for some time and saw him play in person at the Toulon Tournament in France. Paraguay went 2-2-0 in the tournament and Baez scored the first goal in a 2-1 victory over China. While that sort of production is promising, just how he adjusts to MLS and RSL won’t be known, though, until he arrives.
“We’re going to see when he gets here how he best mixes in the group,” Waibel said. “We’ve seen great things in terms of the way he reads space on the field and moves into spaces on the field. We haven’t seen him in a situation where he’s trying to outrun what I would call an American center back, which is typically athletic and physical.”
Baez will join the team upon the completion of the immigration process, which was scheduled to start on Monday. His was the first incoming move for RSL in the summer transfer window, which closes on August 3, but Waibel does not anticipate it will be the last.
“I do think we’ll add one more player, one way or another. We do have plans to add one, we’re still sorting through what the best options in that roster spot are, but we’re in conversations with a number of players,” Waibel said. “We’re evaluating from both sides. We’re waiting for players’ final answers for offers we put out. We’re also about continuing to evaluate what’s in our own house. I think we still could have one or possibly two changes.”
To hear the full interview, click here.