Through the course of this past off-season and into the pre-season we kept hearing about the General Manager, Garth Lagerwey, building RSL 2.0. Although it was painful to lose players like Johnson, Olave, and Espindola, I think most fans will say that RSL 2.0 has been a success so far. While I would agree with that statement as well, I think the success of Lagerwey will not be in RSL 2.0 but in RSL 3.0.
Let's look forward to the year 2016. Although it seems so far away it is only three years down the road. By 2016, the core of RSL that has led the team through RSL 1.0 and 2.0 will be getting toward the end of their careers (if they have not retired by this point already). Saborio and Beckerman will be 34, Borchers will be 35, and Morales and Rimando will be 36 years old. It will be time to revamp the team again. But due to the planning of Lagerwey, RSL 3.0 will be primed and ready to go.
Forwards- It doesn't take much effort to imagine what our forwards might look like in 2016. Due to injury and international call-ups, our young forwards have already seen a lot of the field together. But what is really exciting is the ages of these forwards. Olmes Garcia was a fantastic find for the team. The fact that he is only 20 means his future is extremely bright. Joao Plata came to the team through a trade with Toronto. He is already having a wonderful season leading the team in assists. He is only 21 years old. Devon Sandoval came to the team as a second round draft pick. He works incredibly hard on the field and the team plays very well while he is out there. He is also 21 years old. What is more exciting is that as these three players spend more time playing with each other they can grow together and learn each other's tendencies. Imagine where they might be in 2016 when the oldest will only be 24.
Midfielders- The RSL midfield of the future also looks very promising. No one had any idea who Sebastian Velasquez was when he was drafted by RSL last year. Although he was only getting limited playing time, many people could see his potential. This year he has seen much more playing time and has really opened people's eyes. And with only being 22 years old, he is only going to continue to improve. John Stertzer is a 22 year old that was drafted in the first round this year by RSL. Although he has recently suffered an injury that will probably keep him out for the rest of the year, he did see some first team action and has looked good in reserve league action as well. Enzo Martinez was drafted in the first round last year. The Generation Adidas player has yet to see first team action but has looked very good in the reserve league. I still feel that the 22 year old could make a solid impact with the team. And finally there is Luis Gil. The 19 year old has continued to grow and improve each year. He already has a solid two goals and one assist on the season. The only question with Gil is how long he will stay with the team before he moves along to Europe.
Defense- I think people forget how young Tony Beltran is. It seems like he has been with the team a long time but he is still only 25 years old. He could be entering into the prime of his career in three years. The same could be said about Chris Schuler. Schuler is also only 25 and has been very solid in the back line this year. Schuler's centerback partner for years to come could be Carlos Salcedo. The 19 year old RSL academy product has done great so far in his three starts. He is going to be a great player with a little more experience. Finally there is Jordan Allen. The 17 year old former academy player is a dynamic player with a ton of potential. RSL has played Allen as an outside back in the past, although he has also played in the midfield and as a forward before. He will be going to Virginia in the fall but I don't think it will be too long before he will be playing consistently at Rio Tinto.
Goal- There is no question who the goalkeeper of the future is. Lalo Fernandez was a home grown signing for the team. The 20 year old has seen solid playing time in reserve league matches so far. And, you can't be in a much better position than to be learning from the likes of Nick Rimando.
The run down above doesn't even include players like David Viana. The jury is still out on the 21 year old. He has shown flashes of greatness but has not had much time on the field to prove himself. Others like the 22 year old Aaron Maund could also fight for a spot in the central defense. Abdoulie Mansally has already contributed to the team as an outside back and is still only 24.
Now we can't expect for all of these players to develop into something special. It would be hard to say if they all will still be with the team in 2016. But just by looking at the players above, RSL 3.0 looks like it could be a very special team proving once again how successful a General Manager Garth Lagerwey is.