SANDY, Utah - It has been nearly two months since Real Salt Lake midfielder Ned Grabavoy left the Beehive State to return home to Chicago, but he said it sure doesn't feel that way.
"The offseason always flies by. It goes way too fast," he said on the eve of his returning to Salt Lake to begin preparing for another MLS season, his 11th overall and fifth with RSL. "But I am excited to get going. I'm ready to get started, ready to get back together with the guys and start preparing for what we hope is a successful year."
He may have had eight weeks away from the team, but that doesn't mean Grabavoy has been sitting on his laurels. It also doesn't mean he has done a lot of playing either.
"I always like to try not to overdue anything," he said. "When I was younger, I used to play a lot of indoor soccer. I would get together with other MLS players and play quite a bit. Now, I just kind of try to keep
to a strength and fitness program. I want to try to stay ready to play, but also I take a step back from the game a bit."
Grabavoy, along with all the other members of RSL, had a personalized offseason program put together for him by strength and conditioning coach Dan Barlow.
"Everything is kind of player specific, so they look at previous years and what has happened to a player physically," said Grabavoy. "The last three seasons, I've had some type of a minor muscle issue that has kept me out. So I have been working hard at strengthening my lower body and core. I don't try to do a lot of weight. It is more repetitions and just getting the muscles stronger that, and to follow the program. You know, it is pretty detailed and you try not taking multiple days off."
So despite being away from the players and coaches, Grabavoy says he has been working hard to return to the team in top shape.
"It can be tough to find your motivation, but in the offseason, I have kind of been on my own, so I find things to keep me motivated," he said. "First and foremost, going through contract stuff helped motivate me. This year was a little different knowing the club had picked up my option. It was kind of nice, but I have used that as a motivator for me in the past to try to get a contract, and now, to try to reward the team for putting its faith in me."
With all the shaking up that has gone on with the club, Grabavoy is happy to still be a part of the mix and he remains optimistic that the team can still be at or near the top of the league.
"I don't read a lot of the stuff about our team, but I know there was a lot of negativity," he said. "I don't see it. I think the team has done a good job of getting some allocation money, trading for good players and
keeping a core group of guys around.
"I'm sure the front office is still going to work to bring in some more talent and to get some more depth. I'm not sure if that means at the draft or scouting or what, but I believe they will do a good job and that we will be ready to compete for an MLS Cup this season."