SANDY — For the first time all season, Real Salt Lake appears to have some real depth along the backline. Successful debuts by Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Kenny Mansally on Wednesday night ushered in that reality for coach Jason Kreis.
Watson-Siriboe started in place of injured Jamison Olave, while Mansally did the same for Tony Beltran. Both more than held their own to shut down Seattle's quality attacking pieces, Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero.
Both will likely be back on the bench when Olave and Beltran return healthy, but they've proven themselves to be quality options when called upon.
"That's what we need," said Kreis. "We need players to come in and make a statement for themselves and really make the decisions for us difficult."
Depth is a two-fold luxury, something Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey have always tried to pay attention to since taking over the reigns of the franchise in 2007.
The obvious benefit of a deep roster is injury insurance. The more subtle benefit is competition for playing time day after day after day in training.
Chris Schuler has provided both for Real Salt Lake the fast few years. He's been the ultimate insurance policy for Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave the past two years and when called up he's proven himself to be a bona fide starter in MLS.
Unfortunately for RSL, it didn't have a quality insurance policy for Schuler when he went down with a foot injury nearly two months ago. When Olave injured his calf a few weeks ago, the result was either a hobbled or patchwork backline in matches against Los Angeles, San Jose and Columbus — all losses.
Following Watson-Siriboe's successful debut on Wednesday against Seattle, RSL finally has a Schuler insurance policy. Even though he hadn't played in a match with Chicago all season, he came up big with RSL a week after being acquired in a trade.
If Olave and Schuler return healthy, Watson-Siriboe might not play another game all year. That's just fine with the coaching staff, as long as he continues to improve in training and pushes the first-teamers for playing time.
Wednesday night definitely won't be the only start of the season for Mansally. Picked up on waivers after New England released him in May, he looked every bit the part of an MLS veteran in his RSL debut against Seattle.
After the match, Kreis said the left back looked very, very good. Mansally was used as a forward or midfielder at New England the past six years, and that attacking experience had Seattle defenders a bit on edge whenever he pushed into the attack.
With his performance, it's hard to imagine that Mansally hasn't immediately vaulted past Terukazu Tanaka into the third slot on RSL's depth chart at outside back.
Chris Wingert in particular has to be pleased by the contributions and emergence of both defenders. After bouncing around the backline the past couple weeks, Wingert can focus exclusively on playing right back, now that Real Salt Lake has some defensive depth.
"Let's give them credit. They played really well. They stepped up and challenged hard and did their job. They executed, and that's why you hope for," said Wingert.
Beckham suspended 1 game for misbehavior
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — David Beckham has been suspended for one game by Major League Soccer's disciplinary committee for kicking a ball at an opponent late in the Los Angeles Galaxy's loss at San Jose.
MLS announced the suspension Thursday for Beckham, the Galaxy's superstar midfielder.Comment on this story
Beckham kicked a ball at San Jose's Sam Cronin during stoppage time in Los Angeles' 4-3 loss to the Earthquakes on June 30. Cronin was down in the penalty box at the time, and Beckham's kick set off a prolonged argument between the teams.
Beckham was issued a yellow card for the kick during the game. He missed the Galaxy's home loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday night under suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.
The struggling defending MLS champions' next game is Sunday at Chicago.