Real Salt Lake will lose three players from training this week as Will Johnson, Jean Alexandre and Arturo Alvarez have answered calls from their respective national teams ahead of international friendlies.
Johnson is off to Greece with Canada, who face the 2004 European champions on Feb. 9.
“It’s big for me,” Johnson told reporters. “I take great pride in playing for Canada. For me, it’s an important match, building towards the Gold Cup … building towards World Cup qualifying. So I’m really excited to get over there and play that game.”
The Gold Cup is also a destination this summer for the El Salvador national team.
[inline_node:326650]For that reason, Johnson’s new teammate Alvarez will also be taking his upcoming national team duty seriously. Alvarez will face another of his new teammates as Alexandre and the Haiti squad will visit El Salvador, also on Feb. 9.
Though losing Johnson and Alexandre isn’t ideal for RSL as they prepare for their Feb. 22 Champions League match in Columbus, it’s the loss of Alvarez for the week that could hurt the most. As the new kid on the block, Alvarez has the most work to do fitting in with his new teammates.
“[Alvarez] is a guy that’s trying to figure it out,” Kreis admitted recently on ESPN700 Sports Radio. The RSL coach hinted that Alvarez was still learning his responsibilities on the defensive side of the ball.
Alvarez said he understands this and is keen to fit in with his new club.
“[I want to] come in here and win a starting role on this team," Alvarez said. "This team is a tough team. Every player is good. I want to come in here and play well and contribute to the team as much as possible.”
Despite the challenges that these departures create for a team preparing for an important match, Kreis, a former US international, doesn’t give a second thought when players take a brief departure from the club to represent their country.
“We have made it our club philosophy that we don’t want to take opportunities like this away from our players,” he said.