McDonald available for RSL debut at New York, still fighting for fitness
SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis has proved so far this season that if a player is on the roster and training well, he will probably get a chance to prove himself on the field.
Newly acquired defender Brandon McDonald, who was traded from D.C. United to RSL last week for a 2014 MLS SuperDraft third-round pick and a conditional 2015 selection, will likely be in uniform on Saturday when RSL travel to face the New York Red Bulls, but it isn't very likely this will be the time when he gets his chance to show what he can do on the pitch.
"To be honest, I don't know," said McDonald after training Wednesday if he thought he would play. "I'm just out here taking it day by day, trying to get my fitness back one day at a time. If he calls on me, it's my job to be ready to get in."
McDonald, who was a regular starter and the Defender of the Year for D.C. United last seaosn, fell out of favor this summer in D.C. and has played in only one game since the beginning of June.
"It's tough, especially coming up here in this altitude," said McDonald on working to get back up to game-level fitness. "I thought the first couple of days, 'Oh, it's not that bad.' And then it finally hit in and I'm like, 'Holy hell.' I'm out here breathing pretty tough, to say the least. But for the most part, it is coming along, slowly but surely."
Outside of his wind, McDonald feels he is adjusting well to being with the club and fitting right in. He already had a couple of connections with the team, playing youth-level soccer with forward Robbie Findley growing up in Phoenix, and playing with midfielder Khari Stephensonin San Jose during the 2011 MLS season.
"I've been around a little bit, so I kind of know the ins and outs,"McDonald said. "Obviously, growing up with Robbie helps. Khari was my roommate in San Jose. We lived together for a year-and-a-half. They accepted me with open arms. It's been great how they've been treating me from the front office to the players."
But that fitting in was exactly what the front office expected when they made the trade.
“With the injuries we have had to our center backs we felt it was important to add a talented experienced center back and we got that with Brandon,” Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey said in a press release. “We expect him to be a good fit for us both on and off the field as we continue to try and improve our team.”
So what does McDonald think of his move to Salt Lake?
"It's beautiful. I'm actually moving to Park City, so I'm excited to see what the adventures are," he said.