Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey met with media Tuesday in advance of Thursday’s Superdraft to talk about the draft, the team, and transitioning to a new coach.
As he does every season, Lagerwey sought to downplay the importance of draft picks for this season’s campaign.
“We have 26 players signed as of right now,” Lagerwey said. “We have two players at every single position on the field… It’s going to be very difficult for anybody we draft to make an impact right away.”
MLS Rosters currently may only include 30 players, though squads often carry between 26 and 30. Cole Grossman was listed as the backup defensive midfielder to replace Yordany Alvarez. Kenny Mansally and Rich Balchan are the replacement outside backs now that Lovel Palmer is gone.
Lagerwey also noted that regardless of Thursday’s outcome, this season’s draft could be considered one of the best RSL has had. That’s because the side already signed RSL academy product Jordan Allen. Allen would have been picked very highly in this draft had Salt Lake not signed him to a homegrown contract.
Still, with 26 players under contract, decreased depth in the draft due to homegrown signings, a strong depth chart already, and the 18th pick in the draft, this season’s draft picks probably won’t have a chance to make much of an impact this season.
Lagerwey explained that the side’s continuity on the depth chart likely reflected its changing coaching staff between seasons.
On the New Coach
“We really took an asset protection stance at the end of last season,” Lagerwey said as he explained the side wanted to preserve options for its future coach. “We kept a lot of our players… [which] allows Jeff to make choices.”
Given that Salt Lake had a very successful season last year, nearly winning each of the three competitions it played in, the strategy of keeping the squad together makes a lot of sense. Still, Lagerwey said fans shouldn’t expect things to run smoothly this season.
“We lost a very good coach. I think we replaced him with a very good coach, but its Jeff’s first year,” Lagerwey said. “We will have some challenges. We will have some change… I think it’s naïve to say that everything is going to come off without any hitches.”