SALT LAKE CITY— With less than a week remaining until Real Salt Lake dives into the MLS regular season, fans should rejoice in the plethora of scoring threats — on paper — at the disposal of head coach Jason Kreis.
Alvaro Saborio will be headlining the RSL forwards again, having netted 40 goals since the club acquired the Costa Rican in 2010. Saborio has led RSL in scoring for the past three seasons, including a top-3 finish among MLS scorers with 17 goals during the 2012 campaign.
Meanwhile, Robbie Findley is back with the club and will be battling to secure a spot on the Claret and Cobalt frontline. He previously vacated the position after the 2010 season to pursue an opportunity to play in England.
The pair of strikers combined for 17 goals in their only season together, and Findley believes good things will come once they re-find their chemistry with each other.
"I've always said Sabo has been a great player," said Findley. "It's kind of a big-man, little-man tandem going with us. We need to get our chemistry going and hopefully good things can happen."
Adding depth was always the intention of RSL brass during the offseason, and a subsequent youth movement was simply an added bonus in the process.
Forwards Joao Plata and Olmes Garcia will be looking to make splashes in 2013 after notching 52 and 47 appearances, respectively, for their former clubs last year (Plata with Toronto FC and Garcia with Deportes Quindio of Columbia). The 20-year-olds will be integral pieces of the RSL scoring puzzle as the MLS season progresses.
The Columbian native Garcia inked a five-year contract with RSL, while Plata brings MLS experience, along with speed, to the frontline.
“Garcia is a talented player who is a significant part of our long-term plan,” said RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey. “He’s fast, has good size and is skilled, but he’ll need some time to get used to our system and to Utah."
Rounding out the forward position is rookie Devon Sandoval, who was signed by RSL last week after being selected in the second round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
A second-team All-American in his final year at the University of New Mexico, Sandoval has already started in all but one of the preseason matches for RSL this season. The 21-year-old briefly trained with the Claret and Cobalt last summer, which prompted management to trade up to draft the domestic forward.
“This is a dream come true,” Sandoval said. “After being able to train with the team last summer I knew that this was where I wanted to be. To have it work out like I actually wanted it to, which is very unlikely in soccer, is a great feeling. I’m ecstatic, super happy and couldn’t ask for much more.”
RSL on the air
Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes
Sunday, 8 p.m.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company