Making the roster a tough ask for RSL draftees

Despite staff's familiarity with picks, spaces in high demand

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis was more than familiar with his Supplemental Draft haul on Tuesday.

Of the three selections, two had participated in a combine held by RSL in December at the home of their youth academy in Casa Grande, Ariz.

RSL added goalkeeper Jeff Attinella (South Florida) in the first round, midfielder Drew Cost (Penn State) in the second and forward Nick Love (Gonzaga) in the third. The week prior, they picked up midfielder Jarad vanSchaik (Portland) in the SuperDraft.

“The [Cost] and [Love] picks were essentially borne out of our combine that we did in December,” Kreis said. “These were two players that we didn’t know much about, but having them in our own combine, we feel like we benefitted a great deal. We were able to learn more about them as individuals and see them up front and personal."

Attinella was a fairly highly rated goalkeeper coming into the draft. However, RSL already have two backup 'keepers fighting to be Nick Rimando's understudy in Tim Melia and Kyle Reynish. Though it's likely RSL will carry three goalkeepers on their 30-man roster in 2011, competition will be tough for the rookie.

“It’s just hard for a college goalkeeper to come in and make a big impression,” explained GM Garth Lagerwey, a former MLS goalkeeper. “You are going to be taking them purely on potential and upside.”

In addition to that, RSL are hardly a club oozing with opportunity for young players.

“We have 24 guys under contract," Lagerwey said. "We think we’re going to go into the season with as many as 26 guys, and so there are one or two roster spots open on our club – more likely one.”

However, Lagerwey explained that the opportunities for the Supplemental picks were the same as for SuperDraft pick vanSchaik.

“They are all going to come in and battle for an apprentice spot and we’ll see if any of them make our team," Lagerwey said.

Cost, an athletic right-sided player who usually plays in the midfield, will compete for a right-back spot, just as the left-footed vanSchaik will challenge for a place on the other side of the back four.

Converting midfielders into outside backs is hardly novel. After all, all three of RSL’s current mainstays at outside back —Chris Wingert, Robbie Russell and Tony Beltran — played at midfield in college, although Wingert finished his NCAA career on the back line.

As for Love, Lagerwey admitted he had a good shot at making the cut.

“Love is a forward, and that is a position where we might potentially add a young player. We’ll see if athletically he can fit in.”

RSL open preseason camp in earnest next week in Arizona, so all three supplemental picks will get their chance to show their talents in short order.