Real Salt Lake will open the 2013 season on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes this Sunday.
RSL underwent some big changes during the offseason, cutting four players and trading four more. Franchise stalwarts Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola and Will Johnson were all moved as part of major cost-cutting measures by the team.
"This will be a different looking real Salt Lake team. I do not believe that we are going to come out of the chute and put ourselves in first place in the first five or six weeks like we have done in the past two seasons," head coach Jason Kries said.
Many of the players that RSL parted ways with were part of the 2009 team that won the MLS Cup. However, midfielder Kyle Beckerman, defender Nat Borches and keeper Nick Rimando, all of whom were also on the 2009 team, will provide a solid foundation for the newer members of the squad to build on.
"Veteran leadership is going to be critical as we transition this group," said Garth Lagerwey, RSL's general manager
Despite the changes, players remain optimistic about RSL's chances to have a successful season.
"We've established a pretty high expectation for this group," said Borches. "Why can't this be our year, even with the changes that were made?"