On Friday, Real Salt Lake returned to Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman to resume preparations for Major League Soccer’s continuation of regular season play. Eight days now separate the team from returning to play in home markets with RSL’s first match set for August 22 at Colorado (7:00p MT; KSL TV app, ESPN700).
Having returned from the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida where the team advanced from the group and featured in the Round of 16, and after previously training in Sandy while Herriman hosted Premier League Lacrosse, RSL now feels a sense of normalcy as it returns to work at its familiar training ground.
“Our training ground is what we’re used to and when you’re training at a stadium everyday it feels like a game day, so the mindset can be difficult,” midfielder Albert Rusnák said. “When we’re in Herriman the group knows and understands that this is where we come to put the hard work in. So, to get back to work here is a good thing for us.”
Transitioning from location to location for training and matches over the last few months elevated multiple challenges across the club. For the team and its support staff, constantly switching gears didn’t allow for as much continuity as it was used to. Players had to move training pitches on a daily basis, staff had to change its training plans while consistently on the move. Now with everyone at home, the safety and victories are the most important thing.
“I think the week or so that we had off after being in Orlando for so long did a lot of good for us,” Rusnák explained. “It’s important for us to put the last few weeks and months behind us. Now we’re all in the same place getting ready for Colorado.”
Added Head Coach Freddy Juarez, “What’s important overall is that we have our entire team, medical and training staff back in the same location instead of staff taking equipment to a players house while trying to do treatments at the facility. There were so many moving parts over the last few months and now that we get to settle in and return to normal, we can focus on winning these matches.”
With a just one week left until RSL travels to Colorado, the team has turned every bit of attention to preparing to earn three points. A familiar opponent from Colorado provides a stern road test in the first match to open the continuation of play, but it’s the advantage the group sees with the chance to play at Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since March.
“We’ve got six games ahead of us during phase one. We’re loving the fact that we get to play at home with fans in a safe way, to be on the perfect pitch in Sandy is going to be huge for us,” Juarez explained. “Each match is important whether that’s home or away, but we know when we come home we have everyone behind us being in our comfort zone.”