As told to Ben Wille
- I grew up in Rochester, N.Y. I went down from Rochester to the U.S. U-17 residency program in Florida early in 2011, and coming out of the program I was looking for a place to go so I went to RSL’s Academy down in Casa Grande. I spent a year and a half there, and in that time I played a little bit with the RSL Reserves and met with the coaching staff. And then before joining RSL I spent one semester at the University of Virginia.
- I went to the Academy because I was looking for a place where you can play every single day at a high level and in a good environment – there aren’t a lot of places like that in the U.S. So when I was coming out of residency I was looking for a place that could offer me something like that, and RSL had the only residential academy in the country. So for me it was a no brainer.
- They have a great coaching staff down there at the Academy – Freddy Juarez and Tony Bruce – and they play a good style of football which is the same way we play here. Playing there helped me get stronger and better technically, and it made the transition from playing with them to playing with the Reserves easy for me.
- Though I only signed a month ago, this is actually my third preseason that I’ve gone through with RSL, so I feel very prepared. There weren’t a lot of shocks for me because I knew what to expect. It was important for me to go through those before actually signing so I knew what I was getting into.
- I had a chance to sign with RSL ahead of the 2013 season, but I decided to go to Virginia for a season instead. My parents and I are really into education and Virginia offered me an opportunity to get a great education at a great university. And I’m able to go back there whenever I can or whenever I’m available. It was a big thing for me and my family to make sure I took care of that before I really started to get into my career.
- It was a great experience for me going to UVA – the coaching staff there was great and we made a good run in the College Cup. They [University of Virginia] play a schedule where you play two games a week and it’s a grind for those three months and that helped me prepare for this physically and mentally.
- As for my preferred position, that’s kind of tough – the system we play with is a diamond midfield and we’re really good at it and with that formation there is not as much width coming out of the midfield. I like playing wide so I think in the long run I’ll excel as an outside back here.
- My first goal for this year is to just get myself in that group that is consistently making the 18. If I can make the 18 then I’ll try and make my way into the starting 11. But I’m going to stay grounded and stay realistic. I know I have to work hard just to get into the 18, and there are a lot of good players here so it’s not going to be easy.
- To get away from the game I watch more of the game – I don’t think I really get away from it. If I’m taking a break physically just to get my legs back, I’m probably watching an Arsenal game or googling Arsenal news. So I don’t think I really get away from the game. If I do, I’m usually hanging out with my friends and enjoying my family.
- I just got my first apartment – I’m rooming with [RSL forward] Benji Lopez, who I know from the Academy and the national team. It’s a little bit different out here than it is in Rochester and at the University of Virginia, but I’m looking forward to it out here. I spent three or four weeks here in the summer and liked it. I also found a barber shop out here my first week so that was important.
MLSsoccer.com’s Dan Itel wrote up a nice piece on Tuesday on U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments on RSL midfielder Luis Gil and fellow 20-year-old national teamer, Seattle Sounders FC defender Deandre Yedlin.
Klinsmann had plenty of complimentary things to say about Gil and Yedlin, both of whom participated in the USMNT’s January camp and registered their first senior caps as substitutes in Saturday’s 2-0 friendly win over Korea Republic at StubHub Center.
Klinsmann’s main message? While they’re promising prospects, both Gil and Yedlin still have plenty of work to do to become mainstays with the senior national team.
“I think both youngsters … did well in this first introduction to the senior national team,” Klinsmann said. “That’s why we gave them also their first cap, their first couple of minutes on the field with the so-called older guys. They have a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about it.”
“It’s really important that they stay with their feet on the ground, stay modest,” he continued. “Yes, be proud of that moment, it’s a special moment when you play your first cap, but this is hopefully just the beginning of a very, very good career.”
Klinsmann also pushed for them to take more responsibility with their club teams, a notion Gil discussed with reporters at RSL’s Media Day on Tuesday.
“We need them now to push the envelope with their MLS teams,” he said. “We need them to understand that there’s more responsibility on their shoulders as a senior national team player.”
We’ll have more from Gil on his time with the USMNT and his first cap later on Wednesday. Stay tuned.
Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers made his weekly appearance on ESPN700’s The Bill and Hans Show on Monday, giving a bit of a Super Bowl post-mortem – unfortunately for Nat, he’s a big Broncos fan – and assessing the Claret-and-Cobalt’s first week of preseason training.
As always, Nat gave an interesting interview, with his most prescient moment coming in his analysis of new RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar. Here’s what Borchers had to say about the Claret-and-Cobalt’s new boss:
“It was a great first week of training,” Borchers said. “I think everybody had uncertainties with how Jeff was going to run things and how we would mesh and vibe with the new coaching staff, but it’s been fantastic so far. Jeff’s been very organized, he’s ran some really good training sessions and he’s getting his ideas implemented slowly but surely. We’re getting our base level of fitness going right now, and we’re just going to get better as the weeks go on. I’ve really been impressed with Jeff and his staff, and I’m really excited about this season.”
Borchers and the rest of his Real Salt Lake teammates will be at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday for the team’s annual Media Day. The squad will leave Salt Lake on Tuesday night, departing for Irvine, Calif. for a 10-day training camp at the University of California-Irvine.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake finished up its first leg of preseason training on Saturday, playing a 60-minute intra-squad match at Grande Sports World before leaving the home of the RSL-Arizona Academy for the Phoenix airport and, eventually, Salt Lake City.
RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar split the Claret-and-Cobalt into two squads for the match, putting most of RSL’s available regulars on the White team and putting Real Salt Lake’s reserves and some Academy players on the blue team. The Blue team won the match, taking the lead about halfway through the first half when defender Aaron Maund slotted home a penalty kick. Forward Olmes Garcia – who was one of several players to switch sides in the second half – earned the PK when he was brought down in the box.
The White team controlled the rest of the game, holding the majority of possession and creating numerous chances. They weren’t able to find a finish however, with goalkeeper Jeff Attinella turning in a fine performance – which included a save on a Javier Morales PK, again earned by Garcia – to keep the clean sheet.
Real Salt Lake will arrive back in Salt Lake City on Saturday afternoon, remaining in the Beehive State until Tuesday, when the Claret-and-Cobalt will head to Irvine, Calif. for its second of three preseason training camps.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Real Salt Lake is closing out its week in Casa Grande, with the team scheduled to depart the home of the RSL-Arizona Academy after one final training session on Saturday.
RSL had one training session on Friday, with Head Coach Jeff Cassar putting the team through one of the more strenuous sessions of the week this morning. The Claret-and-Cobalt has the rest of the afternoon off ahead of Saturday’s final session in Casa Grande, which will feature an 11-on-11 intra-squad scrimmage.
We’ll have a report of Saturday’s intra-squad game following the match. RSL will return to Salt Lake City after the match, staying in the Beehive State for three days before heading to Irvine, Calif. for the second leg of preseason on Tuesday.
Billy Witz of The New York Times wrote an interesting feature on the U.S. Men's National Team on Thursday, going in-depth on the USMNT's practice of having players drive minivans to and from practice during the team's annual January camp in Southern California.
Our favorite part of the story came towards the end, when Witz shared an anecdote about RSL's Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando providing some roadside assistance to some unfortunate folks involved in a car accident. The passage is below. Top stuff, guys.
From The Times:
"It was not the most dramatic journey of the week. When Kyle Beckerman was driving back from practice Monday, there was an accident not far ahead of his van. He pulled over. Nick Rimando hopped out and, true to his goalkeeping nature, directed traffic. Donovan comforted a distraught young woman involved in the accident; she did not appear to recognize him. The players stayed until the police and paramedics arrived."
Give the entire piece a read, and be sure to check out this photo of Kyle and Nick. It's pure gold.
RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman sat down for a few minutes on Tuesday with Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl from USMNT camp in Carson, Calif. KB5 and Wahl chatted about the national team, with Kyle sharing what it means to him to be a part of U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's set-up.
Check out the interview above.
It was announced today that Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy players MF Sebastian Saucedo and GK Christian Herrera have been called up to the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team to participate in the Copa del Atlantico in Las Palmas, Spain. The U.S. is making its first appearance in the esteemed international tournament that runs from Jan. 30-Feb. 8. The Americans will face Spain on Feb. 4, Argentina on Feb. 5 and the Canary Islands on Feb. 7.
Thirteen players out of the 18-player roster are currently registered with Academy teams, with four MLS Academies represented. The Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy is the only Academy to have more than one player named to the U-18 squad.
The Claret-and-Cobalt’s MF Sebastian Saucedo and GK Christian Herrera were among the 24 players called into U.S. Under-18 MNT Head Coach Javier Perez’s January training camp in preparation for the tournament. Saucedo and Herrera have guided the RSL-Arizona U-16 Academy team to a 10-1-1 start through twelve league matches. Saucedo leads the team in scoring with ten goals while Herrera has earned eight clean sheets.