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Real Salt Lake: Deep RSL plans to take the 'best player available' in MLS SuperDraft

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15 2014 8:00 p.m. MST

From left, Real Salt Lake President Bill Manning, Owner Dell Loy Hansen, new Head Coach Jeff Cassar, and General Manager Garth Lagerwey pose for a photo during a press conference at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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The MLS SuperDraft — the first two rounds of which take place Thursday in Philadelphia — is the first event of the post-Jason Kreis era for Real Salt Lake.

With 26 players already secured on RSL's roster, however, new head coach Jeff Cassar and the defending Western Conference champions do not have too many decisions to make.

“I don’t think we’ve ever cut a first-round pick, but I would say that could be in play,” said RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey. “We already have two players at every position (and) we feel very good about our starters and reserves. We won’t have a choice but to take the best player available and hope they’ll make our team better.”

That player, who will be selected in the 18th spot, should expect an uphill battle.

“This will be a player fighting to dress in the top 18,” Lagerwey said.

Since taking over the top coaching spot immediately after the club returned from its trip to MLS Cup in Kansas City last month, Cassar has finalized his coaching staff and signed Jordan Allen, a member of RSL’s Arizona academy and a player whose potential contributions are exciting for the club.

“(Allen) can do it all — defend, play midfield, forward — and he has,” Lagerwey said. “His versatility is a real asset for us.”

Securing Allen, a player Lagerwey said the team could not have picked with its No. 18 selection, and preserving most of its successful 2013 roster gives RSL a solid foundation — and allows Cassar and his staff to make their own adjustments moving forward.

“We lost a very good coach but we replaced him with a very good coach, too,” Lagerwey said. “He has a lot of room to learn and grow. We wanted to try to preserve as many options as possible for Jeff, so he can go into preseason and make his decisions.”

After the first-round selection on Thursday, RSL will not pick again until the third and fourth rounds, which take place Tuesday. Salt Lake will have the 53rd and 70th overall picks in those rounds.

Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.

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