For me, the most insightful interview of RSL Media Day was with midfielder Ned Grabavoy. Ned is always very thoughtful in his answers and doesn’t sugar coat it. I often walk away from these discussions feeling like I learned something new. This was one of those occasions. This the first of two topics that were very educational, and shed some light into some of the issues at the core of this 2013 version of Real Salt Lake.
I originally thought I’d try to weave his comments into a story with some clever words and all, but in the end, I think his comments tell the whole story. Enjoy!
It’s Time to Grow Up
“We’re going to have a lot of really young guys looking for time in there, and those guys are going to be our depth as well. It’s also time for some of those guys to grow up a little bit. I think they have a great opportunity to get some time early on in their careers, and they need to make the most of it.”
The Evolution of Luis Gil
“I think at the same time Luis has to bring it every day because it’s going to be a little bit different for him this year, I think. Instead of a guy who is going to come to training every day really fighting for every minute he can get here or there when we were fully healthy last year, he’s going to probably be a guy who is playing a lot. So now he’s on the other side a little bit with guys behind him fighting for his minutes. So he just needs to bring that consistency. Luis has done everything asked of him since he’s been here. I’m a player that’s really happy that they kept Luis here, and I hope he has a chance to do big things this year. Myself and the other veteran players, we really believe in him.”
Young Midfielders Must Adapt Their Game
“I just think players have to adapt their game. If you look at a guy like Sebastian [Velasquez] who comes in who is great attacking-wise and on the ball, and can make special things happen. In a game he can make that special play, but it’s difficult because teams are going to spend money in special spots, and so you have a player like Javier [Morales] or some of the other attacking mids or forwards – and so there are just some great players in those positions. And so now what else can you do to help the team. Can you play wide in the midfield? Can you play deep in the midfield? I think all of those guys have gotten way better at that. They just need to continue to grow. When you come into the league at a certain position, by no means is that where you’re going to play your whole career. There are a lot of American players that have learned that over the years.”
The Evolution of Grabavoy’s Game
“I came in as an attacking mid, and played even quite a bit as an underneath forward for the youth national team and college. I was in LA and next thing I know Landon Donovan was there, and we’re signing a big-time player from Germany* and at the end of the day it’s do you want to play or do you not want to play? It’s not easy, but this club has a lot of stability, and so I think this club gives young players a great chance to succeed and get better individually. So we just hope the next six weeks during preseason we see a difference in some of them.”
*I think he may actually be referring to Austrian Andreas Herzog.
What do you think, are these guys (Luis Gil, Enzo Martinez, David Viana, Sebastian Velasquez and newcomers Cole Grossman and John Stertzer) ready to step up their game?