Real Salt Lake entered the final week of preseason on Monday and the team is now narrowing its focus on the season-opening match against the Portland Timbers on March 7 at Providence Park.
Head Coach Jeff Cassar has watched his team coalesce into a cohesive unit throughout training camp and Monday’s training session in Tucson was another reassuring step in preparing for the start of the season. From the back to the front, there were encouraging signs as RSL builds during the last week in Arizona.
“Today was very good. I enjoyed today’s practice,” Cassar said after training. “So really we’re going to start stressing the importance of the little things, sharpening up everything to get prepared for Portland.”
RSL is coming off of a 3-1 win over FC Tucson on Saturday and a day off on Sunday. Now with two matches remaining in the Desert Diamond Cup and three more training sessions in Arizona, the team has precious little time to iron out the wrinkles before the season starts.
That makes the training sessions and matches all-the-more focused this week.
“We really just hope to sharpen up everything. We’ve had a great preseason so far. We’re moving in the right direction in a ton of areas. I just want that little bit of extra sharpness, whether it’s building out of the back, midfield movement or that final ball,” said Cassar, noting that he was pleased in those areas on Monday. “I thought there was good movement. It wasn’t reactive, it was proactive. We’ve been stressing that all preseason long. And then the quality of the ball. Sometimes we were just off a little bit with our passing, but today was really good.”
RSL will face Sporting Kansas City at 8 p.m. MT on Wednesday in a match that will help determine seeding for the final day of competition in the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday. Currently, RSL leads the standings with six points, followed by SKC with four points, Sounders FC with three points, the Colorado Rapids and with two points and New England with one point. FC Tucson has lost both matches, leaving the hosts with zero points. A win or draw on Wednesday will ensure that RSL will play in the championship match on Saturday.