Randal Serr of RSL Soapbox, our sister site on the Wasatch Front, chimes in to give us some insight into what a changed RSL side will look like on Saturday evening and for the rest of 2015. In addition, Stumptown Footy answered some questions over at RSL Soapbox.
SF: Death, taxes, and RSL's diamond midfield. Those have been the only constants in MLS watchers' lives over the better part of the last decade. Is it true the Claret-and-Cobalt are moving to a 4-3-3, and if so, what do you expect it to look like?
RS: RSL is in fact changing formations and it looks like they will be heavier up front with three strikers that in theory should play well off of each other. I think the reason for that is that RSL has three quality forwards and it would be a disservice to them and the fans to not have them all on the field. Those three are Joao Plata, Alvaro Saborio, and Sebastian Jaime. That is not to say that the diamond is done. Jeff Cassar has stated that he wants teams to not know exactly how to plan for RSL so it's essentially another ace up his sleeve.
SF: There have been a fair number of changes in Salt Lake this offseason with the departures of Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, and Nat Borchers, and return of Jamison Olave. Does 2015 have the feeling of a new era in Sandy?
RS: Even Kyle Beckerman has gone as far as to say this is a new chapter for Salt Lake. For that reason, he turned down a U.S. Men's National Team call-up to stick around and help the new players integrate with the system and with the rest of the team. Change does not go over well with Utah sports fans, and there are definitely arguments to be made for RSL possibly being better had those players been able to stay, but I am of the opinion that this is a high risk high reward situation in which RSL might actually have a stronger starting XI. The reason I say that is because all indications point to Demar Phillips being a more athletic, offense-minded outside back. Jamison Olave is also much more athletic and speedy than Nat Borchers (not that we won't mis him. We very much will.) and should compliment Chris Schuler well. As for the loss of Ned Grabavoy, this is Luis Gil's year to take a bigger role and really lead the team so it was going to happen sooner or later. All that and I feel like the striker depth is better than ever with three proven scorers and two younger players that are primed to break out.
SF: Who should Timbers fans expect to see step up in the absence of Joao Plata?
RS: Here are two players that will have to assume a bigger role with the absence of the Ecuadorian National Teamer: Sebastian Jaime and Olmes Garcia. All the coaching staff and upper brass have been saying that Jaime is going to surprise everyone, but time will tell. Others have said that Garcia will be a player akin to Fabian Castillo of FC Dallas when he completely figures the league out and is at his peak. If they don't pan out, we will have problems.