IRVINE, Calif. - Real Salt Lake has the day off on Tuesday, taking a quick break from training and scrimmages to recharge the legs and refresh the minds.
The entire team is scheduled to head out for an afternoon BBQ with RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen this afternoon. Should be a nice, relaxing time - I know the guys are looking forward to it.
The Claret-and-Cobalt will get back to work with a double session on Wednesday. The team will have one training session on Thursday before closing out its California camp with a closed door scrimmage against the L.A. Galaxy on Friday. RSL will head back to Utah following that match, remaining in Salt Lake for the weekend before heading to Arizona for the club's third and final leg of preseason at the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup from Feb. 11-24.
IRVINE, Calif. - Real Salt Lake made a notable addition to its camp roster on Saturday, bringing in former L.A. Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders on a trial.
Saunders was the Galaxy’s No. 1 ‘keeper in 2011 and 2012, helping lead L.A. to MLS Cup titles in both years. The 31-year-old goalie had a 1.33 goals against average in 27 regular season games played last year. He and L.A. parted ways this offseason after the Galaxy signed former Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.
The Claret-and-Cobalt now has five goalkeepers in camp in Nick Rimando, Jeff Attinella, Lalo Fernandez, trialist Mark Pais and Saunders.
RSL will train once on Sunday before taking on the University of California-Irvine Anteaters in a scrimmage on Monday night.
Former Real Salt Lake assistant Robin Fraser and ex-RSL goalkeeper Kyle Reynish both made moves to the Big Apple this week, with Fraser joining the staff of new Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke on Wednesday and Reynish signing with the NASL New York Cosmos on Thursday.
Fraser was an assistant at RSL under Claret-and-Cobalt Head Coach Jason Kreis from 2007-10. Reynish backed up Real Salt Lake starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando from 2007-12.
Kreis spoke to Empire of Soccer about the Reynish move, telling the site's Dave Martinez that he was surprised that Reynish wasn't picked up by another MLS team this offseason.
"I figured somebody would take [Reynish] in the re-entry draft back in December," Kreis told Martinez. "I thought for sure that people would have scouted him enough to know of his quality and I really thought he would end up on another team in MLS."
"He has played in some very big games for us," Kreis added. "He has been training with arguably the best goalkeeper coach in the league in Jeff Cassar. He has been training with Nick Rimando. He has all the experience necessary to lead the other goalkeepers inthat team and also offers leadership to the rest of the entire group."
Petke was clearly very happy to hire Fraser, who was the head coach at Chivas USA in 2011 and 2012, telling the league website that bringing in the ex-U.S. international was an easy decision.
“Just thinking of who could be a good fit for Red Bull and [Fraser's] name came up and to me it was a no-brainer,” Petke told MLSsoccer.com. “He was available and the experiences he has and knowing him personally, [I knew] his attitude, his personality, would fit right in. … I said to [Red Bull Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh] that he would be a phenomenal addition to this staff.”
Best of luck to Kyle and Robin in New York.
Real Salt Lake's newest "Join the Pride" video dropped earlier this week, with RSL season ticket holder Bean Mace and Claret-and-Cobalt commentator Brian Dunseth remembering the moment when Dunny scored the club's first-ever home goal, converting Mace into a Fan for Life.
The video got me thinking about the moment when I first started following the Claret-and-Cobalt. I'm not a Utah native, so I'm probably a little late to the game here, but my "RSL moment" came at the 2009 Eastern Conference Final in Chicago. The Claret-and-Cobalt and the Fire were scoreless after 120 minutes, with RSL overcoming an early deficit to win in the penalty kick shootout. That was the game when I really took notice of RSL's attractive style of play. I became enthralled by the team's diamond midfield, walking away from the match incredibly impressed with the versatility of all four players in it, the technical skill required to run the system and the beautiful soccer it produced.
I'm sure there are plenty more "RSL moments" out there. Feel free to share yours below.
IRVINE, Calif. – Real Salt Lake arrived in Irvine, Calif. on Thursday for the start of the team’s second preseason camp. We’re now only four-and-a-half weeks away from the start of the 2013 MLS regular season.
Head Coach Jason Kreis will put the Claret-and-Cobalt through its first training session of the week on Thursday evening, directing the squad through what’s expected to be a light practice that will begin at 6:00 p.m. MT.
The Claret-and-Cobalt will train a total of eight times in Southern California – down two from the 10 practices held in Casa Grande, Ariz. last week. RSL will also play friendlies on Feb. 4 against UC-Irvine and on Feb. 8 against the L.A. Galaxy. The team had just one friendly in Casa Grande, losing 0-2 to the Danish U-20 national team on Monday, Jan. 28.
RSL made a couple of changes to the roster that trained in Casa Grande, sending forward Peri Marosevic, goalkeeper Andrew Weber and defender Max Wasserman home and bringing in defender Justin Davis on trial. RSL took Davis in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft but did not offer him a contract. The University of New Mexico product played the last two seasons with the Minnesota Stars in NASL.
Most of the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy players who trained with the first team last week remained in Casa Grande, with forward Benji Lopez the lone academy player set to train with the Claret-and-Cobalt in Irvine.
Plata set to train
New RSL forward Joao Plata will train with the Claret-and-Cobalt for the first time on Thursday. Plata was traded to RSL from Toronto in exchange for a second round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft on Wednesday.
We'll be back with plenty more updates from camp. Stay tuned.
Real Salt Lake added forward Joao Plata on Wednesday morning, sending a 2015 MLS SuperDraft second round pick to Toronto in exchange for the Ecuadorian attacker.
The diminuitive Plata, who had 10 goals and nine assists in 52 career games across all competitions with TFC, will bring a bit of a different element to the RSL attack, with his pace and trickery sure to give opposing defenders fits in 2013. Plata was awarded the 2011 George Gross Memorial Trophy after being named the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship MVP.
Plata featured three times for Toronto against RSL, playing the first half in RSL's 3-1 home win over TFC on June 25, 2011, going the full 90 - and scoring the winning goal, see video above - in the Reds' 1-0 win over RSL on Aug. 13, 2011 and coming off the bench for 22 minutes in RSL's 3-2 home win against Toronto on April 28 of last year.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – There were a few great quotes and notes that didn’t quite make the final cut of the written and video features about the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy that we published on Monday morning.
Here are a few of those quotes and anecdotes:
Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey:
On what RSL wants to get out of the RSL-AZ Academy, beyond simply developing professional players:
“I think the goal here, especially within a residential setting, is not only to create good soccer players but to create good people. We’re proud of the fact that we’re beginning to sign professional soccer prospects out of the academy but we’re also sending far more kids to college. These are kids sometimes of limited means where the opportunity to go to college can be potentially life changing. I know our partner [Grande Sports Academy Owner] Ron Burks has been instrumental in laying the foundation for that as one of the core values of the academy, and I think that those twin objectives are not only compatible but mutually beneficial for us.”
On where he sees the RSL-AZ Academy in 5-10 years:
“Ideally we’ll have identified every soccer prospect in Utah and Arizona from the age of 12 or 13 and have had them here for five years of growth, development, coaching and skill enhancing. Hopefully we do it in such a way that instead of players that need to go to the minor leagues or train with the first team for a year or two [before playing for RSL], we’re coming down here and saying, ‘We think this guy is better than somebody on our team and we’re going to sign him tomorrow.’”
On what it would mean to have a RSL-AZ graduate emerge with the Claret-and-Cobalt first team:
“I think it’d be huge. I think it’d be the validation of everything we believe in down here and it’d be a validation of all the money we’ve spent down here – and it’s been a significant investment that we’ve made. I think that that’s going to be important not just for a kid or recruiting kids to the academy, but I think it’d be tremendous for our fans to see a truly homegrown player with a local connection, the kind of local boy who grows up in the academy and plays for the first team. I don’t think there is a more powerful image that you can send the Salt Lake community and fan base in terms of us being a long term part of the social fabric.”
On if developing Home Grown players through the Academy is more important to a small market team like RSL than a bigger market team like L.A. or New York:
“Absolutely, absolutely. That has to be the foundation of what we do. We have to be a reflection of our community and we have to play in a way that comports with the values of our community, and I think developing players locally is a big part of that.”
Real Salt Lake-Arizona U-18 midfielder Haeden Turner
He didn’t quite make it into the final draft, but RSL-AZ U-18 player Haeden Turner was a huge help in the reporting of the written story on the academy. The injured midfielder was very gracious with his time on two separate (unplanned) occasions.
A Canadian who came to Casa Grande in August 2011 after spending the previous two years at then-English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers, Turner said he loves the RSL-AZ Academy and really appreciates its emphasis on both education and soccer, something he didn’t really experience while in England.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - Real Salt Lake had the final practice of its Casa Grande camp on Sunday, training for a little over 90 minutes ahead of Monday's preseason opener against the Denmark U-20 national team.
Sunday's practice was relatively light, with Claret-and-Cobalt Head Coach Jason Kreis putting his charges through some technical work before giving the team a tactics talk ahead of Monday's match. Expect Kreis to give minutes to plenty of players on Monday, as the technical staff will likely use the match to evaluate as many untested players as possible.
Be sure to follow the @realsaltlake Twitter account for live updates of Monday's game, which will kick off at 11:30 a.m. MT at Grande Sports World. We'll have full postgame coverage of the Claret-and-Cobalt's preseason opener here on the official website.
RSL will head back to Salt Lake City following Monday's game. The team will remain in Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday before departing on Thursday for Irvine, Calif. for the team's second leg of preseason. The Claret-and-Cobalt will train in Irvine from Jan. 31-Feb. 8, when they will return to Salt Lake again before heading back to Arizona for the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup from Feb. 11-24.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis gave his first update of RSL's preseason camp after training on Friday, sharing his thoughts on how things have gone in Casa Grande and outlining some of the defensive work the Claret-and-Cobalt have done in Arizona.
RSL will have a double session on Saturday. It should be lots of fun - it poured rain in Casa Grande overnight and continues to do so this morning. The fields are pretty soaked, the players are dressed up in their rain gear and we're all ready for some serious slipping and sliding.
Real Salt Lake began a new chapter in its history on Thursday with the announcement that RSL founder Dave Checketts sold the remainder of his stake in the team to Dell Loy Hansen, making Hansen the sole owner of RSL, Rio Tinto Stadium, and ESPN 700 radio. As I listened to the press conference, I found myself getting a bit emotional, especially as Checketts ("Uncle Dave", as he is affectionately known to fans) was speaking. For him, RSL was a labor of love. I firmly believe that Dave Checketts is the reason RSL survived its infancy. Most businesses that fail do so in their first five years, and there were a couple of times that RSL could have and would have failed if it weren't for Checketts and his sports business acumen. He wasn't the flashiest or richest owner in MLS, but he was the most savvy. In short, Dave Checketts was the right man for the job at the time. Uncle Dave, thank you for believing in all of us.
Likewise, I believe Dell Loy Hansen is the right man for the job at this time. New ownership of a sports franchise is always met with some trepidation, so let me tell you a story about Mr. Hansen that may help put your mind at ease.
It probably won't surprise you to learn that my soccer journalism gig doesn't pay all my bills, and very few of us are fortunate enough to say otherwise. As such, I have a career unrelated to soccer that helps me make ends meet. Ironically, it was my other career that led to my first meaningful conversation with Dell Loy. It was 2010 and I was doing a lot of business with one of the other businesses Dell Loy owns. The CEO of Dell Loy's business invited me to sit with him and Hansen in Hansen's suite at the next RSL game. So I decided to enjoy two hours high on the hog - I called in "sick" to my editor for that game and headed to Hansen's suite.
I had met Dell Loy before but never beyond salutations in the hallways and back rooms of the stadium. This time, as I introduced myself formally, he said "you're the journalist, aren't you? I read your stuff! Grab a plate of food and sit down...I want to talk to you." I was flattered and surprised that I was being read by a team owner. For the next half hour he grilled me on everything RSL and soccer-related. What makes RSL so good? What's the diamond midfield? What makes Jason Kreis a good coach? What does this team need to be better? What did the ref call there? How do we get the fans more involved and engaged?
Since then I've had a couple more experiences like this with Hansen. From them, I feel confident stating a few things now that he is RSL's sole owner:
- He is a local who loves Utah and he wants to the team to succeed in Utah in spite of the challenges of being a small market.
- He is a visionary man who knows how to grow a business on multiple fronts.
- He knows who is customer is. The fans are what make this business tick and he knows that.
- He has the resources and is willing to invest them in the team to make sure the product RSL delivers is top-drawer.
- He believes in the team management and technical staff.
I'm very excited to see what unfolds in this next chapter of the Real Salt Lake story. The first eight years of RSL gave us many amazing moments, and I really believe there will be even more of them as we move into the future.
A former RSL beat reporter for multiple outlets, Jeremy Horton is a regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com and covers the team for ESPN 700 AM