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.
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.
The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine hit news stands this week, with Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando featured prominently in a photo spread.
Rimando appeared in in a shoot for "The Perfect Issue," taking ESPN Mag writer Doug McIntyre through the process of making a diving save as a smaller - Rimando's just 5-foot-9 - 'keeper. The spread - part of a series called "So Crazy, It Just Might Work - can be seen by clicking here.
Rimando and the rest of Real Salt Lake squad will head to Southern California on Thursday for the team's second leg of preseason. The Claret-and-Cobalt will train at the University of California-Irvine from Jan. 31-Feb. 8, playing UC-Irvine in a friendly on Feb. 4 and taking on the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on Feb. 8.
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.
The USMNT will play its first match of 2013 on Tuesday night, when it will take on Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston (7 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran are both on the U.S. roster for the match, and several outlets are predicting that both Claret-and-Cobalt players will be in manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup.
Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl and Pro Soccer Talk’s Steve Davis both have Beckerman and Beltran pegged for the First XI. Beckerman in particular is getting a lot of press, with Fox Soccer’s Kyle McCarthy and American Soccer Now’s Josh Deaver both writing extensively about how the Claret-and-Cobalt captain has taken a leadership role in the U.S. camp.
While Beckerman is getting more publicity, Tuesday’s game is undeniably bigger for Beltran. Unlike Beckerman, who has 23 senior national team caps, Beltran has never appeared for the USMNT and will be looking for his first cap on Tuesday. A good performance against Canada could also net Beltran a spot on the roster for the U.S. Hexagonal opener at Honduras on Feb. 6, a roster that Beckerman is likely to make regardless of how he performs in Houston.
Beckerman and Beltran are both expected to return to RSL for the team’s third and final preseason leg at the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup from Feb. 11-24.
Make sure you watch both Kyle and Tony in action on Tuesday night.
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.