The Six Biggest Stories of the Off-Season

[ 0 ] February 29, 2012 |

Andy Williams retires

Andy Williams' retirement was one of the biggest stories of the off-season.

Thank goodness the off-season is coming to an end! In just over a week, Real Salt Lake will open the season against the LA Galaxy.

  1. Getting Healthy: Real Salt Lake spent most of last season banged up with injuries. The off-season was a chance to rest, and many players received minor surgeries. The whole team still isn’t quite whole, but nearly every player should be ready to go on March 10. Will Johnson is unavailable for that match, but he will be ready soon thereafter.

  2. Goodbye Depth: Last season, the team entered camp heralded as the “deepest team in Major League Soccer.” This season will be a little different. While the side kept its 13-14 best players on the roster, nine players left during the off-season. Gone is much of the depth that defeated Cruz Azul in 2010, and it has been replaced by a number of young draft picks and trialists.

  3. CONCACAF Changes: Real Salt Lake earned its second CONCACAF birth for the tournament starting this fall. Big changes have happened that will make advancing to the knock-out stages easier. Now, Salt Lake will need to win its three-team group; however, the side will avoid a Mexican or US side in the preliminary round. Best of all, there will only be four matches, which will help in an already busy schedule.

  4. Unbalanced Schedule: Starting this season, Major League Soccer will play an unbalanced schedule that keeps more matches within the conferences. On its face, this would seem to hurt Real Salt Lake as the Western Conference is much better than the East; however a closer look at the schedule last season tells a different story. Salt Lake was 9-5-3 against Western Conference opponents and 6-6-5 against Eastern Conference opponents. The reduced travel will also help a side that will struggle with its depth all season.

  5. Bomma Retires:The last remaining RSL original has retired. But don’t expect Andy Williams to leave Real Salt Lake. He is now the team’s head scout and has already begun working with the technical staff to help find top talent for the team.

  6. New TV Deal: Real Salt Lake just signed a new TV deal that has been called the best in the league. Every match will be broadcast in HD on local stations so every Utahn can watch. The 30 local broadcast matches will be on Salt Lake’s ABC affiliate or on the CW (Ch 4, 30 respectively). This is a huge step for a league that has already surpassed the NBA and Major League Baseball in average attendance.

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