Blog

Preseason

14 February 3:21 pm

There’s been a lot of love shown on the Real Salt Lake Facebook page today, with plenty of fans sharing stories about how RSL kick-started their relationships.

RSL fan Kathryn Roethel reached out to us earlier this week about her Claret-and-Cobalt-colored love, asking if we could pass along a Valentine via The Sovereign to her boyfriend, Matt Rieck. Never ones to stand in the way of matters of the heart, we gladly obliged. Here’s Kathryn version of her and Matt’s story, which – oddly enough – Matt posted on Facebook this morning.  

My boyfriend, Matt Rieck, became an RSL fan while living in Salt Lake City about four years ago. He bought season tickets and eventually convinced many of his friends to get season tickets, too. They went to every home game and traveled to many road games as well, including the 2009 MLS Cup. Matt had to leave Salt Lake when his job took him to San Diego two years ago, but he still travels to see RSL every chance he gets.

Matt is a college friend of my sister's, and we'd met several times over the years, but I live near San Jose. When RSL played the Earthquakes last April, Matt saw a chance to visit me -- under the guise of being in town for the game. We spent a wonderful day together, including a lesson in MLS rules so I could better enjoy the match. Matt even sketched out the field for me on a legal pad and labeled all the RSL players by name and position! (I still have the drawing.) By the time we got to the game, I was very much hoping he'd take the opportunity to hold my hand in the stands. Unfortunately for me, it was a pretty intense match, and RSL lost when the Quakes scored two goals in the 90th minute. Needless to say, there wasn't much occasion for hand holding! (I'm a big sports fan, too, so I understand these things!) I'm happy to say that Matt quickly recovered, though, and the loss turned out to be little more than an asterisk in the record book of fantastic first dates.

Matt let me borrow an RSL jersey that weekend (which I never returned!), and he's since given me one of my own. We still live in opposite ends of California (though, not for much longer!) and until then, we visit each other nearly every other weekend. On the weekends we're apart, we've been known to watch RSL games on TV "together," while talking on the phone. And we will be sitting in the RSL section of Buck Shaw Stadium for the season opener against the Earthquakes [on March 3] -- our first time back since our first date.

Happy Valentine’s Day to Kathryn, Matt and all you other RSL fans out there. 

14 February 2:07 am

It's always difficult to take too much away from a preseason match without making profound leaps of logic, but two goals in the first five minutes of play certainly says something. Real Salt Lake came racing out of the gates and, while New York was unprepared, quickly put two goals in the back of the net before the Red Bulls fought back to tie 2-2. The factors that shaped the game are numerous, but let's focus on three of them.

Inexperienced defending

RSL's two quick goals surely had something to do with the speed of the players involved, but the playmaking efforts of rookie midfielder John Stertzer and midfielder David Viana created quick opportunities. Viana's pass for the second goal was particularly sublime. The efforts of Viana were made slightly less effective as New York pushed further forward, with the midfield area becoming increasingly clogged. RSL's primary areas of safe possession shifted further back the pitch, leaving less room for midfielders to move the ball around the pitch.

You could almost see the cogs moving in Real Salt Lake's less-than-cohesive first-half back line: Carlos Salcedo and Aaron Maund worked well together, Lovel Palmer stayed back and kept things tidy on the left, and Josh Saunders made some fantastic stops when necessary. Rather than pushing forward, the defense looked to retain the ball rather safely. It's important they do that, but it did make for an incomplete showing.

The defending for the first goal conceded — a corner finished by former RSL defender Jamison Olave — was unorganized, though, while a failure to deal with a cross saw the second goal hammered in.

Plata's speed and acceleration

As important as the playmaking was for RSL's two goals, equally important was the speed of thought and speed of motion involved. Joao Plata, vital in both, showed not top pace over distance as one might see in a breakaway, but top acceleration in tight areas. This gave him a distinct advantage in pulling away from defenders, drifting wide in the box, and firing home. He had one goal and nearly had another, in part because of his speed.

Veteran heads shine through

When RSL's lineup switched over to a more widely experienced group, the match was drawn at 2-2 — that didn't change. But what did shift was the approach: Real Salt Lake went from being on the back foot to controlling play, from stopping chances to creating them.

It's difficult to definitively say whether this change in play was entirely down to the lineup shift for Real Salt Lake, given the half saw wholesale changes for New York, but it certainly can't have hurt. Real Salt Lake nearly instantly started looking like the creative, dominant team again — even if a few chances went begging and things didn't quite fire on all cylinders.

Along with contributing to RealSaltLake.com, Matt Montgomery runs RSL blogs RSL Soapbox and Under the Crossbar. Follow Matt on Twitter @TheCrossbarRSL

13 February 8:47 am

TUCSON, Ariz. - Real Salt Lake will kick off its FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup schedule on Wednesday night, taking on the New York Red Bulls at 7:00 p.m. MT at Kino Veterans Stadium. The match is the second in a Wednesday Desert Diamond Cup doubleheader, with Seatttle and New England scheduled to face off in the early game. Both matches will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com. 

The game against New York isn't the only thing on the plate for Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. The Claret-and-Cobalt will also train this morning, with Head Coach Jason Kreis set to run the reserves for Wednesday's match through a light training session beginning at 10:30 a.m. MT. The starting lineup for Wednesday's match will not participate in the morning training session. 

Beckerman back

In other news, Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman re-joined the team late on Tuesday night, flying to Tucson after spending Feb. 10-12 in New York for the 2013 MLS Media Tour. Every MLS team sent at least one player to New York for the media tour. Five players, including RSL's Alvaro Saborio, were on a Spanish-language Media Tour in Miami from Feb. 9-11. 

Balchan in camp

Real Salt Lake brought in defender Rich Balchan for a trial on Tuesday. The 12th overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Balchan was released by Columbus this offseason after spending two years with the Crew.

Interestingly, the 24-year-old made his professional debut in the first leg of RSL's CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal series against Columbus on Feb. 22, 2011. The Indiana University product trialed with Chicago earlier this preseason. 

11 February 6:14 pm

TUCSON, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake arrived in cold and rainy Tucson – no, that’s not a misprint – on Monday for the start of the team’s third and final preseason camp. We’re now less than three weeks away from the start of the 2013 MLS regular season.

Tucson schedule

Head Coach Jason Kreis will put the Claret-and-Cobalt through its first training session of the week on Monday evening. It should be a light session, with the team running through some drills for about an hour before heading back in.

RSL will play its first FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup match on Wednesday, when it will take on the New York Red Bulls at Kino Veterans Stadium at 7:00 p.m. MT. The Claret-and-Cobalt will take on Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. MT and the New England Revolution on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7:00 p.m. MT. RSL will close out its Tucson trip on Saturday, Feb. 23, when it will play in either the DDC Championship or Third-Place Match.

MLSsoccer.com will stream every game of the tournament live excluding the final, which will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.

Beckerman, Saborio on MLS Media Tour

RSL captain Kyle Beckerman and forward Alvaro Saborio did not travel with the team on Monday. Beckerman is currently in the middle of a MLS Media Tour in New York City. Saborio wrapped his two-day media tour of Miami earlier Monday and will arrive in Tucson later Monday night.

Borchers, Wingert travel with team

Injured defenders Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert traveled with the team for the first time all preseason on Monday, heading to Tucson to rehab their injuries with the RSL training staff. Both players are still weeks away from training.

Roster update

RSL made several changes to the roster that trained in Irvine, Calif. last week, sending home defender Brock Granger, Justin Davis and Everett Pitts and goalkeeper Mark Pais and bringing in defender Nickardo Blake on trial from the NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

We’ll update the roster as players come and go from camp in the next couple of weeks. 

11 February 10:13 am

Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert revealed on Saturday that he's about a month away from returning to practice, telling ESPN 700's On Frame from the Rio Tinto Stadium Open House that his fractured right metatarsal will need "four to five" more weeks to heal before he can get back on the training field.

Wingert injured his foot while training in December. 

"I just talked to [Team Physician Dr. Andrew Cooper] who did the surgery and he said everything looks perfect," Wingert said on Saturday. "It's doing great and it looks like about four to five more weeks until I can really start training." 

Wingert hasn't been with RSL at all this preseason, remaining in Salt Lake City to ehab his foot. He will leave with the team for Tucson on Monday, however, traveling with the Claret-and-Cobalt to the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup to perform rehab under the watchful eyes of RSL's training staff. 

Injured defender Nat Borchers will also travel with the team to Tucson. Borchers had surgery on a left quad tendon earlier this offseason and was not with the team for any of its previous preseason trips. He's expected to return to game action in mid-April. 

07 February 8:02 pm

IRVINE, Calif. - MLSsoccer.com’s Michael Black wrote a nice article on Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez on Thursday, speaking with the rat-tailed playmaker about his rookie year of 2012 and his hopes for 2013.

Velasquez had some illuminating things to say, telling Black that he wants to expand his role in his second professional season.

"Last year I was very nervous," Velasquez told Black earlier this week. "I was on a thin line between making the team or not. Now, this year, I feel like I'm more comfortable. I'm back with my family. We are all so close, I really do consider the team my family. I know the system and I what to expect and I think I am picking up my game.

"Last year, I just wanted to get a chance to see the field," he continued. "This year, I want to see the field a lot more, play a big role for this team. I think I can score goals, play a lot of minutes."

Velasquez has looked good so far in preseason, flashing his trademark technical ability and becoming a much more polished defender. He’s also taken on a more vocal role, helping some of RSL’s new arrivals along as they learn Head Coach Jason Kreis’s system.

RSL coaches and players have taken note of Velasquez’s solid preseason. Kreis told Black in an interview from Irvine that “[Seba] will get a shot to show us what he can do” with fellow midfielders Javier Morales injured and Luis Gil with the U.S. U-20 team.

Claret-and-Cobalt midfielder Ned Grabavoy has also been impressed by Velasquez, praising him on Thursday’s edition of “The Bill and Hans Show.”

“I think Sebastian is a guy who’s looked pretty sharp,” Grabavoy said. “Obviously, he’s a skillful and technical player going forward, but he’s also shown a little bit of maturity in other parts of his game, which is important.”

Give Black's entire article a read. It's well worth your time. 

07 February 4:05 pm

IRVINE, Calif. – Real Salt Lake had the last training session of its California camp on Thursday morning, working on tactics and set plays ahead of Friday’s closed-door scrimmage against the L.A. Galaxy.

Thursday’s session had a serious tone. The team is clearly bothered by its 0-2-0 preseason record and seems motivated to put one in the win column at the Home Depot Center on Friday.

“I think it’s a really important game for us,” said rookie forward Devon Sandoval. “I think everybody knows that and I think the guys are very focused. Everyone looks pretty sharp and we’re hoping that things go well tomorrow.”

RSL will travel back to Salt Lake City immediately following Friday’s match, remaining in Utah for the weekend before heading to Arizona on Monday for the start of the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup. The Claret-and-Cobalt will take on the New York Red Bulls in the DDC opener on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. MT. 

06 February 6:27 pm

IRVINE, Calif. – Real Salt Lake got back to work on Wednesday after an off day on Tuesday, completing its first session of the day around noon local time. The Claret-and-Cobalt will take the field for a second session on Wednesday evening.

Video of some small-sided action from the morning training is above. The guys had an active session, with lots of chatter, coaching and good soccer on display.

RSL will train once on Thursday before closing out its California camp on Friday with a closed-door scrimmage against the L.A. Galaxy.

06 February 6:04 pm

IRVINE, Calif. – Plenty of Real Salt Lake players’ eyes were glued to the television on Wednesday afternoon for the U.S.’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat at Honduras.

While that game didn’t go as most of the team would’ve liked, it’s far from the only international match that RSL will be watching on Wednesday. Claret-and-Cobalt forward Alvaro Saborio will be in action for Costa Rica in its Hexagonal match at Panama on Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. MT, beIN Sport), with several RSL staffers and players planning to head to a local establishment to watch Sabo in action for Los Ticos.  

Three RSL players who won’t be watching Saborio play for Costa Rica on Wednesday are goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez and defenders Carlos Salcedo and Lovel Palmer. They’ll be locked in to the Mexico-Jamaica match (7:00 p.m. MT, ESPN2), with Jamaican international Palmer hoping that his Reggae Boyz can take down Fernandez’s and Salcedo’s El Tri at Estadio Azteca. There’s been quite a bit of banter about the match between Fernandez and Palmer, with the two betting dinner on the outcome. Stakes are steaks.