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RSL get underway with first preseason workouts

SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake players and hopefuls converged this week, as they begin the side’s 2012 MLS journey with the opening of preseason camp.

RSL veteran Will Johnson is looking forward to putting last season behind them, and embarking on a new quest for success in 2012.

“Every season is different,” the Canadian international told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “You have different challenges. You’ve got to get through preseason, get everybody healthy – you never know what’s going to happen. But we’ve got a lot of young guys coming in.”

A total of 27 of the 32 players on the preseason roster kicked off the voyage by undergoing entrance physicals on Wednesday night. Each player went from station to station for eye checks, blood pressure checks and medical evaluations while also catching up with old pals in between each test.

The players will begin training with their first session taking place on Thursday and returning forward Fabián Espíndola is looking forward to it – well, sort of.

“I’m getting ready for tomorrow,” he said while waiting around during the entrance physicals. “I think it’s going to be the beep test tomorrow. I hate that. It’s so unfair.”

Espíndola and his teammates will undergo several days of fitness training in Salt Lake City before embarking to the Phoenix area on Jan. 31 for the first of two preseason trips to Arizona. The second trip will begin on Feb. 20, when the team will participate along with the LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and New England in the Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.

There were a couple of notable absentees from the preseason squad. First-round draft pick, midfielder Enzo Martinez, did not make the trip to Salt Lake but will instead join up with the squad in Phoenix. Meanwhile, Supplemental Draft pick and forward Oliver Kupe is finishing up his senior year at Northwestern and will join up with the squad in May after completing his studies.

Several veterans were also missing, and they will be held back from full training due to injury. US international Kyle Beckerman is recovering from an adductor strain, while Nat Borchers, Will Johnson, Javier Morales and Álvaro Saborío are also nursing ailments which require more time before they begin the strenuous preseason period.