Beltran started more games than any other RSL player last year, 32, and his club desperately needs him to stay healthy and play well in the early goings of 2013. The defender received his first U.S. National Team call-up in January, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t build on that momentum early this season.
Anchoring the entire team is goalkeeper Rimando, and Lagerwey said he expects another fantastic season from the 13-year veteran.
“Nick has been the cornerstone of this franchise since I’ve been here,” Lagerwey said. “We know what he’s capable of. He’s on the fringe of the national team. I think you’re going to have a highly motivated player because, especially at his age, he wants to play in a World Cup and he wants to be involved in qualifiers.”
Lagerwey said that Rimando’s performance the last five games in 2012 might have been the best stretch of his career. Real Salt Lake didn’t score a single goal during those five games, but Rimando made some incredible saves to salvage four 0-0 draws — and the one goal he gave up was goal-of-the-year material.
Rimando will likely miss extended minutes this summer because of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which made the signing of back-up keeper Josh Saunders “a no-brainer,” according to Lagerwey. Saunders won two MLS Cups with the L.A. Galaxy, but was surprisingly waived in the offseason.
Real Salt Lake gave up the third-fewest goals in MLS in 2012, but duplicating that outstanding defense will be difficult with so many question marks.
Goals allowed in MLS between 2010-2012
Real Salt Lake (91)
Los Angeles (101)
Kansas City (102)
FC Dallas (114)
New York (119)
San Jose (121)
D.C. United (142)
Chivas USA (146)
New England (152)
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