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MLS: Real Salt Lake adds size, depth through SuperDraft

Published January 17, 2013 3:50 pm

Major League Soccer • Kreis says rookies will have a chance to earn playing time.
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John Stertzer describes himself a "sports junkie," an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the Phoenix Suns and, as of Thursday, Real Salt Lake.

RSL used its first-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft on the 22-year-old Stertzer. And like Salt Lake's second-round pick, New Mexico forward Devon Sandoval, the Maryland product will add size — and depth — to Salt Lake's roster.

"It's amazing," Stertzer said after hearing his name called No. 12 overall. "I can't really describe it. I'm at a loss for words."

A Virginia native and a key cog for No. 3 Maryland last year, Stertzer scored 23 goals and tallied 13 assists in 63 career appearances for the Terrapins. Stertzer was in Real Salt Lake's "top eight players in the entire draft," coach Jason Kreis said.

"We think he offers something a little bit different in that he has some more size than a lot of the guys who are typical RSL midfielders," Kreis said. "He's a technically gifted player, a very hard-working player."

Stertzer, who scored the first goal of last week's combine, said he felt comfortable with the RSL front office and coaching staff after meeting with them last week.

"I know they have great fan support," he said. "I'm really looking forward to being a part of that. I've watched them on TV, and it looks like an awesome place to play."

On Thursday, RSL also added more firepower to its roster, moving up two spots in the second round to take Sandoval at No. 29. RSL swapped second-round picks with Philadelphia and gave up a pair of supplemental picks to get Sandoval, who impressed coaches when he trained with RSL for a week last summer.

"We got pretty close to our selection and, to be truthful, the coach wanted him pretty bad," Kreis said. "I had a feeling somebody else was going to take him."

When the trade was announced, Sandoval also said he "had a feeling."

"I got the opportunity to come out and train with them over the summer," he said. "I really liked it. I liked the coaches, the team. It kind of felt right."

Sandoval, a 6-foot-1 forward who scored 28 goals in his college career, said he likes to "battle and get into the box and knock people over and fight for goals."

He also sees himself meshing well up top with Salt Lake's new addition, Robbie Findley.

"He's a big-time forward, and he's fast," Sandoval said. "It could be a good combination with my size and build-up play. It could be dangerous."

Though RSL's top pick in 2012, Enzo Martinez, never made it onto the field for the team last year, Kreis said the team's latest additions will have a chance to earn playing time.

"The door will always be open for young players to come in and play right away," he said.

Stertzer and Sandoval both said they are anxious to prove themselves.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work hard," Stertzer said. "When my time comes, I'm going to be prepared for it."


Twitter: @aaronfalk —

Morales re-signs with RSL

A day after the star midfielder announced his return via Twitter, RSL officially re-signed Javier Morales, pictured, on Thursday.

"I had offers from other countries to go and play there, but I wanted to keep playing for RSL," Morales said in a team release. "Utah is like a second home to me and the people in Salt Lake — the fans, my teammates and my coaches — have always made me feel very welcome. I just want to keep playing for them and doing good things for the club."

Morales turned 33 earlier this month. In his first full season back after breaking his ankle in May 2011, Morales, the team's all-time assists leader and third-leading scorer, notched a team-best nine assists last season to go along with three goals.

"We're thrilled that Javier will be back with us for the coming season," Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerwey said. "He's one of the best players in RSL history, is incredibly dynamic on the field and is a stabilizing force off of it. We couldn't be more excited to have him back for 2013 and we're very eager to see what he brings to the field."






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