SANDY, Utah — When a team has over two weeks between games during the MLS season, it doesn't necessarily mean a break for the players.
In fact, in the case of Real Salt Lake, it means just the opposite — hard work.
"You approach it the same way as any other day, you get ready to work," said defender Chris Wingert. "You prepare to work hard every day when you come in for training."
And that is exactly what RSL have done. With an extremely disappointing showing in their last outing, U.S. Open Cup elimination on a 3-1 loss at home to the Minnesota Stars of NASL, and not another match until June 16 at Chivas USA, manager Jason Kreis has put the players through a couple of very strenuous, fitness-oriented training sessions.
"For us, coming off a performance that we had in our last match, it is important for us to remind the group, ourselves included, of what we are about and how we have success. For me, that starts with long, hard practices."
While the players sweated and gasped for air, they also realize full well the benefits of these workouts.
"It is tough, but it is also really good," said midfielder/forward Cody Arnoux, who saw his first 23 minutes of first-team action this season in the loss to Minnesota. "I think we probably needed this. We need to get out here and work really hard to work out some of the frustrations, and to work back into form so the next time we step on the field we don't play as poorly as we did.
"It is almost like a second preseason in that we don't have a game to really worry about, but we can work on our tactics and especially our fitness."
For Real, the only competition they will be seeing is during training for the next two weeks.
"This is a good time for us to both get some people back healthy, back from national team call-ups and just time for us to work on our fitness," added Wingert. "We plan on being out here and working hard, being professionals and getting better."
GIL BACK UNEXPECTEDLY
One of the players RSL didn't expect to see for the next couple weeks because of U-20 U.S. National Team camp was 18-year-old midfielder Luis Gil.
Unfortunately, Gil returned to Salt Lake after only one training session with the National Team because of an injury. Gil sprained his MCL during the first session and returned to see the RSL trainers for further diagnosis. He is expected to be out four to six weeks with the injury.