Skip to content

Real Salt Lake 2024 MLS season preview

We’re taking you through Salt Lake's offseason action, hopes, fears, tactics & much more.

6 min read

Where we left off last year

2023 season: 50 points, 5th in the Western Conference

Real Salt Lake pretty much perfectly met expectations in 2023 by finishing fifth in the West — they’ve finished somewhere between third and seventh in five of the last six seasons. The odd year out there was 2020 COVID season, when they finished 11th. 

Tactically, Pablo Mastroeni continued to prioritize long balls in possession and a mid-block out of possession in his second full season in charge of the club. RSL forced teams to beat them, rather than the other way around. In doing so, they took advantage of a lackluster Western Conference field and finished just three points out of second place.

By adding former LAFC striker Chicho Arango in a club-record summer transfer deal, Real Salt Lake gave themselves an attacking difference-maker along with breakout attacking midfield star Diego Luna. An injury to distributor Pablo Ruiz in August ruined some of the midfield balance, though. Between midfield problems and a lack of top-end talent relative to some of the league’s best teams, RSL couldn’t get past the Houston Dynamo in the first round of the playoffs.

What changed in the offseason

Notable arrivals:

  • Fidel Barajas, W: Barajas, 17, is the latest young talent to move to MLS from the USL Championship. A tricky, left-footed winger, the Mexican-American was among the best playmakers of any age in the second division last year. Real Salt Lake made this move with an eye to the future and won’t rely on immediate production from Barajas to start 2024. Still, he’s a real talent, and RSL continue to establish themselves as the league's best club at finding smart investments from the lower divisions.
  • Alexandros Katranis, LB: Joining from the Polish league, Katranis doesn’t have an extremely impressive resumé. Still, the 25-year-old Greek left back has solid athleticism, works hard defensively, and is a decent crosser of the ball. He’s got an eye on the starting job. 
  • Matt Crooks, AM: With Damir Kreilach and Jefferson Savarino both gone, the English lower-league veteran should help add some attacking threat back into the team. In his 1,500 Championship minutes with Middlesbrough this season, Crooks finished in the 86th percentile in non-penalty expected goals plus expected assisted goals per 90 minutes among his positional peers. The 30-year-old can do a bit of everything in the final third.

This post is for paid subscribers


Already have an account? Log in