After rolling out the soccer balls for the first time on Monday, Real Salt Lake got down to implementing its attacking style of play and welcomed a new face into the squad on Tuesday.
During its first double-training day of the 2020 preseason, Head Coach Freddy Juarez and his staff began to set forth its attacking style of play by implementing principals the team will carry with it for the remainder of the season.
“It’s important for us to get our principals across to the players within the first week of training,” Juarez said. “We’ve had meetings and have talked about what we want things to look like, so for them to see and practice the precision and understand the communication is key. With that, the energy was great and we think the players are really embracing what we’re setting forth.”
Using the team’s two-a-day sessions, the RSL coaching staff is looking to add depth to certain concepts that were practiced in the morning as the team builds its identity.
During the morning session the team used small-sided drills to set the tone of the speed of play and decision making ahead of working on the build out when the team has possession in the final third. From there, the playing fields were expanded into situational play as Juarez and his coaching staff offered coaching points throughout the drills.
As always during the preseason, the first session of the day ended with sprints that spanned nearly the entire length of the field. During the second session, the goalkeepers were shot upon by the attacking core of players, giving the coaching staff its first real look at the shot-stopping ability of the goalkeeping core for the season.
With the team focusing on attacking the opponent during the first part of preseason, the speed of play in all areas of the field was prioritized. Together with the speed of play and making good decisions in building from the back, on-field relationship building began to take shape.
“Today we worked on our build out when we have possession in the final third,” Juarez explained. “Getting the repetitions in situations they’ll encounter is always going to help us. When a team builds from the back it doesn’t always mean short passes to open up space. There are options all across the field, so understanding the relationships each player has with other positions on the field was a high focus of today’s early session.”
From goalkeeper to striker, those relationships and tendencies began to take shape as the field was expanded into 11 vs. 11 for the latter part of the morning.
A short session in the afternoon followed the morning, with crossing and finishing drills along with passing sequences making up the majority of the afternoon.
Young Internationals in Camp
On Tuesday the team welcomed back two young international players in Julian Vazquez and David Ochoa from camp with their respective national teams. Vazquez spent the week prior with the Mexico U-20 side for two matches against the United States, while Ochoa was with the U-20 Stars and Stripes for its matches against Mexico.
However, RSL defender Justen Glad remains with the U.S. Men’s National Team in Florida as the U.S. continues its annual January camp.
Ashtone Morgan Arrives
RSL saw an MLS Cup winner and two-time runner-up Ashtone Morgan join the team on Tuesday. The Canadian left back signed for RSL on Tuesday morning and was put through his paces in the early goings. Upon his arrival to the Zions Bank Training Center Morgan said: “I’ve never seen a facility with the amenities and professional environment as this club has. It has made me ever more excited to be here and get to work.
The Canadian international spent his previous nine seasons in Major League Soccer with Toronto FC where helped the club to its most successful seasons that included three appearances in MLS Cup, including lifting the Philip F. Anschutz trophy in 2017 and runner-up medals in 2016 and 2019.
Real Salt Lake returns to the field at Zions Bank Training Center for one training session on Wednesday as the countdown to the opening of the 25th season in Major League Soccer continues.
RSL will train in Herriman through Saturday before departing for the second leg of camp in Phoenix, Arizona.