Real Salt Lake’s preseason roster grew by one on Thursday when defender Justen Glad joined the squad for training at UCLA. Glad spent the previous two weeks with the U.S. National Team at January camp in Chula Vista, California, but was not among the 23 players selected for the upcoming friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica. Instead, he returned to his club as RSL charged through the fourth day of preseason training camp with some valuable experience and fitness from the U.S. camp.
“It was awesome. It was a lot of fun. It was a good learning experience,” Glad said. “I’m grateful for it. Now I’m happy to be back with the guys.”
This was Glad’s second invitation to U.S. National Team camp and first under new Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. Formerly with Columbus Crew SC, Berhalter brought a new approach as the U.S. begins its journey toward the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
RSL forward and Academy product Corey Baird remains with the U.S. as he vies for his first cap. The first match in his tenure comes on January 27 in Arizona with the second coming on February 2 in San Jose, California.
While Glad did not make the final roster, he got a good perspective on what Berhalter is looking to build for the U.S.
“There was a lot of teaching. He’s coming in with a new group of guys so he had to explain his style of play and the culture he wanted to build,” Glad said. “It was a good learning experience - a good coach, a good staff and a lot of quality players there. So it was fun.”
Now back with RSL, Glad will look to integrate what he’s learned with the U.S. back with RSL. Now in his sixth MLS season, the 21-year-old center back has his work cut out for him in competition with veterans Nedum Onuoha and Marcelo Silva, along with Nick Besler and rookie Erik Holt for playing time in the middle of RSL’s defense. In the last three seasons, Glad has 78 starts for Salt Lake, including 33 last year.
He now views the next month as his opportunity to prove himself and take the next step in his development.
“I’m looking to get back in rhythm with the squad, meet all the new guys and build the culture that Mike wants to build,” Glad said. “Hopefully I can bring some of that experience with the national team back here.”
Real Salt Lake has two training sessions scheduled for Friday before concluding this leg of training camp on Saturday and returning to Utah.