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SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake players will report to Zions Bank Training Facility in Herriman on Friday as the 2023 MLS preseason officially gets underway, which will give a chance to see at who exactly will (and won't) be showing up.
The most notable change will be the absence of RSL's 2022 leading scorer Sergio Cordova, who returned to German club FC Augsburg after his loan expired at the end of the year. Cordova led the team with 11 goals during the regular season and playoffs.
Designated player and fellow Veneuzeulan Jefferson Savarino came in second with seven goals and is set for a starring role this year in his first full season in Sandy since 2019.
Savarino is rumored to be joined by another designated player — occupying one of three spots reserved for higher-earning players — in 20-year-old Colombian winger Andres Gomez from Millonarios. MLS insider Tom Bogert reported Thursday the deal is being finalized for around $4 million, which would be a club record transfer fee for RSL.
Source: Real Salt Lake are finalizing a potential club-record signing of Colombian winger Andres Gomez from Millonarios. Deal would be around $4m.— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) January 6, 2023
Gomez, 20, already has 13g/6a in ~4,000 mins with Millonarios first team. He would hit RSL's cap as a U22 Initiative signing. pic.twitter.com/9k7wUOJuuD
Apart from the Cordova, Gomez news and the previously reported trade of Aaron Herrera, RSL's other additions will all be coming from the MLS SuperDraft that took place on Dec. 21, when RSL selected five players.
The highlight of the draft came when RSL traded $175,000 in 2023 general allocation money to Atlanta United FC in exchange for the seventh overall pick, used to select former RSL Academy and University of Washington forward Ilijah Paul. He had 11 goals and five assists in 19 games for the Huskies in 2022 and was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
After Paul, the Claret and Cobalt's next two picks were used to select forwards, possibly in an effort to replace Cordova's production and boost a lackluster 2022 attack. Bertin Jacquesson was the 16th overall pick after he recorded 19 goals and 23 assists across 57 games during his three years at the University of Pittsburgh after he moved to the U.S. from France.
Both Paul and Jacquesson are part of the Generation Adidas program, a joint venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer for young up-and-coming players that will not count against the team's senior roster if they are officially signed to MLS contracts.
RSL then selected forward Emeka Eneli from Cornell with the 25th overall pick, midfielder Amferny Sinclair from Syracuse with the 45th overall pick — he helped his school win its first national championship in program history in 2022 — and defender Moses Mensah from Campbell University with the 74th overall pick.
The team will go through physicals Friday before leaving on Jan. 13 to California for a portion of preseason training. RSL will then spend another portion of the preseason in Arizona beginning on Feb. 6 before returning to Utah on Feb. 18, ahead of the season opener at Vancouver on Feb. 25. The first home match at America First Field is March 11 against Austin FC.