The challenges that RSL face for 2009 and beyond

...not that many, really.

Item one: don't overreact to Saturday night. The Royals weren't super-serious championship contenders, but they were a few clangs away from a shot at the belt. Just yell out "God damn it, Olave, you got smoked by WOLYNIEC?" into the mountain air, then let it go. And now that it's a couple of days later, you're back to being cool with Movsisyan, right? Hitting the post would have been a good option with a couple of the can't missables he had, sure, and I'm sure that's making you angry or depressed. These are valid feelings. Acknowledge them, understand them, then move on.

The positives are just as real. Even people who say "You make your own luck" are sympathetic to hitting the post four times. It was just one of those games. If Osorio had said before the game "Our plan is to get Wolyniec free then bunker for an hour," he would have been institutionalized. Barring that, Salt Lake would have been the legitimate champions of the West.* A weak-ass West, but that's not Salt Lake's fault. They'll be back.

The actual problems are pretty easy to spot - aging guys in skill positions, Robbie Findley's inconsistency, Nathan Sturgis' fragility. If Findley isn't the answer to partner with Yura, well, that's why God created DPs. Choose wisely, and the Royals compete for the Shield next year. (Choose stupidly, and you're the Wizards, or worse, but you knew that.)

I'd be surprised if Andy Williams/Dema Kovalenko is a long-term solution, either. You'd like to have a better option out there - it's actually starting to look like Klein for Sturgis and Findley was a bad trade, actually, because even though he's just as old, he's apparently invincible, and exactly what Morales could use. Oh, well, bygones. Draft or sign from the USL some likely lad who doesn't mind running in the mountain air all year.

And yeah, that's pretty much it. Love the defense, love what Kreis has built, not sure I love old, injury-prone Clint Mathis starting, but his attitude seems good. (Better late than never...yeah, Clint, you didn't want to be the first American soccer superstar anyway.) A rapprochement with Cunningham would also have come in handy Saturday night, but he's not a 2009 solution, so, again, don't look back in anger.

The Royals won't go farther next year - probably another conference final loss, this time at Robertson Stadium. Maybe even a first-round upset. Don't confuse that for a step backwards. Serious competitor in 2009, serious title contender in 2010. The future's so bright, you could probably get a real sponsor at some point.

*Forgot - not really worth its own post, but, so what if NYRB are representing the West? No one in the West deserved to go this year. That's why they had the playoffs. The Red Bulls played their way in, this isn't the BCS. Think of it as the NCAA Final Four, where Villanova comes out of the Southwest bracket or whatever.