Saturday marked the conclusion of Real Salt Lake’s first full week of official training camp and Head Coach Freddy Juarez capped the week off with a 60-minute intrasquad scrimmage at the Zions Bank Training Center.
After six training sessions in five days with double-days on Tuesday and Thursday surrounding an off day on Wednesday, extending the fitness of the team has been among the focuses of the early part of preseason camp.
“You want to grow and get better and improve the fitness, so we worked the guys there. We saw good intensity from beginning to end. The 60th minute there is still a final corner kick – one team is trying to keep the win and the other team is trying to tie the game, so that was very encouraging. We wanted to focus on the attacking side and getting behind the opponent and we saw very good moments and opportunities for both teams to get multiple goals,” Juarez said. “There are still things we need to work on on the defensive side, so we will work on that. It just gives us a good idea of where we are at and what we need to continue to work on.”
It was the first look for Anderson Julio in an extended game situation after a week working out with the team. The Ecuadorian winger has acquitted himself well with his new teammates and on Saturday he showed flashes of what he can offer to the team, but is still easing into his role with the club.
“I thought he could be more aggressive. It’s not easy in your first week to get used to your teammates but we saw some good things,” Juarez said. “There were some moments when he would get into 1v1s and some isolations. Overall, I thought it was a good exercise for him to get acclimated to the group on a big-sized field.”
Damir Kreilach scored the lone goal in the exercise, cracking a free kick from just outside the 18 on the left side and rocketing it inside the far post on the top corner to give his team the advantage. They hung on through to the finish, even fending off a late effort to tie up the game in the final minutes.
“I like the energy we have and the positivity. The game is meaningful and they’re looking to win the game and for me that’s huge,” Juarez said. ‘They also find the balance of what we train during the week. We are combining both to continue to grow as a team in our style of play.”
After taking Sunday off, RSL returns to the field on Monday in the continued build-up to the 2021 season opener on April 24 on the road against Minnesota United FC. The home opener comes on May 1 at Rio Tinto Stadium against Sporting Kansas City.