Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah

Real Salt Lake opens the 2012 MLS season this Saturday at Los Angeles with much of its same core in tact from last year's squad that finished with the third-best record in the league. Eight new faces join the team in 2012 though, three via the SuperDraft, one via the Supplemental Draft, one as a homegrown player and three as training camp invitees. With several of RSL's regulars a week or two away from getting back to full fitness, several of these newcomers could be in line for some playing time right out of the gates. Here's an alphabetic look at those eight first-year RSL players.

No. 12 Emiliano Bonfigli, Forward
Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah


Birthplace: Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Hometown: Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Age: 23

How acquired: Selected in the first round of the MLS Supplemental Draft.

Expected role with RSL: Will likely be RSL's fifth-choice striker, but should challenge Paulo Jr. and Cody Arnoux for playing time later in the year.

Previous club: Manta F.C. (Ecuadoran 1st Division)

No. 33 Leone Cruz, Defender
Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah


Birthplace: Hammond, Ind.

Hometown: Round Rock, Texas

Age: 24

How acquired: Real Salt Lake acquired his rights from Seattle during the MLS Supplemental Draft in January. Cruz was a second-round draft pick by Seattle in 2011, but he was cut before the regular season started.

Expected role with RSL: Will serve as the No. 4 center back on the depth chart.

Previous club: SMU

Side note: Played in two Reserve Leagues games with RSL as a guest player last year.

No. 3 Diogo de Almeida, Defender
Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah

Birthplace: Piricicaba, Brazil

Hometown: Piricicaba, Brazil

Age: 23

How acquired: Selected in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, No. 24 overall.

Expected role with RSL: Along with fellow newcomer Terukazu Tanaka, they'll serve as the No. 3 and 4 outside backs on the depth chart behind Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran. He's naturally left-footed, the type of player RSL has been coveting for years.

Previous club: SMU

No. 1 Lalo Fernandez, Goalkeeper
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Birthplace: Guadalajara, Mexico

Hometown: El Paso, Texas

Age: 19

How acquired: Signed to a homegrown player contract from the RSL-Arizona Academy.

Expected role with RSL: Will serve as the No. 3 keeper on the depth chart behind Nick Rimando and Kyle Reynish, and will likely only see action in reserve games.

Previous club: C.A. Penarol (Uruguayan 1st division)

Side note: Father played professionally in Mexico. Has appeared with Mexican Under-17 National Team and U.S. Under-20 National Team.

No. 19 Enzo Martinez, Midfield
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Birthplace: Montevideo, Uruguay

Hometown: Rock Hill, S.C.

Age: 21

How acquired: Selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, No. 17 overall.

Expected role with RSL: An attacking-minded midfielder, the coaching staff has high expectations for Martinez. He should get immediate playing time while Javier Morales and Will Johnson work their back into the starting line-up. After that, he'll be battling Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez for playing time.

Previous club: University of North Carolina

Side note: One of nine members of the 2012 Generation adidas class.

No. 22 Jonny Steele, Midfielder
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Birthplace: Larne, Northern Ireland

Hometown: Larne, Northern Ireland

Age: 26

How acquired: Was invited to RSL training camp as a trialist.

Expected role with RSL: A wide midfielder who will likely battle Sebastian Velasquez for playing time as the primary back-up to Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson.

Previous club: Carolina Railhawks (NASL)

Side note: Journeyman minor leaguer has played for Syracuse Salty Dogs, Rochester Ragin Rhinos, Carolina Railhawks, Vancouver Whitecaps (pre-MLS), Tampa Bay Rowdies, as well as indoor stints with Kansas City Comets, Baltimore Blast and Philadelphia KIXX.

No. 53 Terukazu Tanaka, Defender
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Birthplace: Ibaraki, Japan

Hometown: Ibaraki, Japan

Age: 26

How acquired: Was invited to RSL training camp as a trialist.

Expected role with RSL: Along with fellow newcomer Diogo de Almeida, they'll serve as the No. 3 and 4 outside backs on the depth chart behind Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran.

Previous club: Sagan Tosu (Japanese 2nd Division)

Side note: RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey scouted him out at a combine in Japan in the offseason, and he had dark hair at the time. Lagerwey jokes that he dyed his hair blonde prior to coming to Utah because of the rock-star lifestyle here. Spent five years playing in Japanese first and second divisions.

No. 26 Sebastian Velasquez, Midfielder
Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah

Birthplace: Medillin, Colombia

Hometown: Greenville, S.C.

Age: 21

How acquired: Selected in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, No. 36 overall.

Expected role with RSL: Projected as a wide midfielder, and should compete for playing time behind Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson.

Previous club: Spartanburg Methodist Community College

Side note: First junior college player taken in MLS draft since Yura Movsisyan was selected by Kansas City six years earlier. Was a 2011 NJCAA second team All-American.