The below article has been translated from its original posting on FutbolMLS.com … click here to read the original article in Spanish.
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake had its first official practice of the season this past Saturday at the University of Utah facilities, and on Sunday the team flew south to Arizona to begin its first training camp at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande – one of the finest training facilities just south of Phoenix, which also happen to be the home of the RSL-Arizona Academy.
There was a very positive mood exerted from the players with a bit of anxiousness and joy – for not having lost many during the offseason, but rather have gained reinforces for the team – to get the season going.
“I am ready. I haven't played in about a month and a half, and I'm anxious to be back,” said the captain Kyle Beckerman, who vacationed during the offseason in Europe and attended a Real Madrid game.
Meanwhile, Coach Jason Kreis is already showing signs of confidence in his team and is very happy and impressed with all the work his players did during the offseason.
“Our guys have come back in better preseason form than ever before, and that is a great step forward since we only have four weeks and three days until our first game.”
Apparently the first physicals of the season showed that this team is ready for the challenges coming up in getting ready for their first game.
“These guys are not afraid of hard work,” said Coach Kreis. “Everyone kept their form with the pre-assigned individual exercises set by their physical trainer, Dan Barlow, and it seems that everyone followed them.”
The only questionable player is the international forward, Alvaro Saborio, after having surgery performed on his knee at the end of last season. The 28-year-old “Tico” became the first Designated Player for Real Salt Lake after the team purchased his rights and secured a contract that will keep him with RSL until the 2014 season.
“I'm very happy with the outcome and that I get stay here,” said Sabo.
He isn’t sure of playing at the team's season opener – the CONCACAF Quarterfinals on February 22nd against Columbus Crew in Ohio.
“I don't feel any pain, but I do have to strengthen my leg. It all depends on what Tyson (Pace) says,” indicates Saborio with a smile, looking at the team's physical therapist, the bilingual Athletic Trainer who is working closely with el tico.
The team begins the pre-season with a few other players injured. The central defender Rauwshan McKenzie suffered a minor sprained ankle during the offseason but hopes to rejoin the preseason training this upcoming week.
The other young defender Chris Schuler is still recovering from his right foot surgery from last season. According to Coach Kreis, Schuler will probably not train with the team until their second trip to Arizona.
And although he practiced normally, Nelson Gonzalez had to apply ice to his left foot.
“I’m still suffering from some of the discomfort from last season,” said the young Argentine midfielder.
The other youngster that seemed pretty happy was the Brazilian, Paulo Araujo Jr.
“It’s the first time that I signed a four-year contract with a team. I am very happy and I hope to have more opportunities this season to develop the confidence they have entrusted upon me,” said the forward.
Coach Kreis also confirmed the Canadian midfielder Will Johnson will be playing an international friendly in Greece on February 9, and will of course also participate in the Gold Cup this summer.
“We have made it part of our team’s philosophy that we do not want our players to miss these kinds of opportunities,” said Kreis. “This is a great year for Will Johnson and Canada with the Gold Cup this summer, and that’s why I want him to go play that game [against Greece]; we have decided to allow him to do so.”
It seems that all the RSL players completed the physicals this past weekend, with the exception of Nick Rimando and Arturo Alvarez, who are playing for their respective national teams. Both will join Real Salt Lake in Arizona soon.