MLS Training Camp Preview: Real Salt Lake

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By JOSE M. ROMERO

     PHOENIX — Like Florida and Arizona in major league baseball, the two sunny states are also entrenched as the destinations of choice for U.S. winter preseason training for Major League Soccer clubs.

And just like in baseball, it appears Arizona is increasingly becoming the locale of choice. Twelve of the 18 MLS teams will pass through the desert beginning Monday through March 8, when MLS Cup runner-up FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls have a training match scheduled in Casa Grande, Ariz.

Real Salt Lake is first to arrive and begins training Monday at Grande Sports World outside of Casa Grande. There's hard, dry earth under the green grass of the site's fields, but weather shouldn't be a factor.

Here is a closer look at Real Salt Lake's pre-season:

REAL SALT LAKE

Length of stay: Jan. 24-Feb. 1 at Grande Sports World, Feb. 7-15 at Reach 11 complex (North Phoenix).

Tentative training game schedule: Feb. 1 vs. Vancouver, Feb. 8 vs. Seattle, Feb. 14 vs. Colorado.

Key Arrivals: Arturo Alvarez, Jeff Attinella

Key Departures: Robbie Findley, David Horst

What to watch for: Real Salt Lake is the first to get to Arizona in no small part because it has a Feb. 22 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match (first leg) against the Columbus Crew in Ohio. So it could play as many as three CCL games plus another preseason match to be determined, in addition to the three training games in Arizona, before the MLS regular season starts. The CCL matches will be every bit as tough as MLS regular-season contests, so coach Jason Kreis is charged with getting his team in shape for major competition in only a month's time… With 24 players under contract, spots on the senior roster for rookies figure to be very scarce.

Of note: Real Salt Lake has U-18 and U-16 academy teams in residency at Grande Sports World, so it should be quite a thrill for the youngsters to see the pros from the highest level of the developmental chain up close and personal. In turn, RSL's front office gets its opportunity to see the club's future in the players' home environment… The team's schedule for the first portion of Arizona training has practices starting at 10 a.m. local time daily except Jan. 27 (4 p.m.), Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. All practices are free and open to the public to watch.

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11 Responses to MLS Training Camp Preview: Real Salt Lake

  1. zacalie says:

    Thanks Jose. I’m excited to get out and watch some pre-season training this year, especially RSL’s

    Do you know if Phoenix charges any type of fee for admission to the Reach 11 complex?

  2. Tielor2d says:

    What are the chances Luis Gil gets into some games this season?

  3. Dlewis says:

    He could get into some cup games and maybe be a sub in some league games.

  4. Jose Romero says:

    Thanks zacalie,

    I’ve been to Reach 11 to see U.S. U-18s and academy tournament and parked for free in the lots and walked to the fields, so I wouldn’t anticipate any charge.

  5. Tim F. says:

    Thanks for doing these training camp previews. It would be great to also see a projected starting lineup / depth chart. I presume these will be the starters: Espindola and Saborio up top; Morales, Beckerman and Johnson in midfield; Borchers, Olave and Wingert in defense; and Rimando in goal. Don’t know which two will start among Grabavoy, Williams, Russell and Beltran.

  6. zacalie says:

    Perfect. Thanks for the reply, Jose.

  7. Mattmatumbo says:

    Sabo’s still recovering from his surgery. 3 weeks until he can do full work outs.

  8. BC says:

    Beltran at right back. Russell has lost a step. Don’t count out Warner as the starting right mid. May have the best ball skills outside of Javy and Andy. And Andy can’t go 90 any more.

  9. sciroccer says:

    I think Alvarez will probably be a starting mid.

  10. Chodilicus says:

    I would not mind seeing Johnson move to RB and play both Alvarez and Warner in the midfield with Beckerman and Morales. That would be an incredibly creative and fun to watch midfield. RSL tried Johnson at RB once late last year and it worked out really well.

    I do agree that Russell lost a step towards the end of last year, but Beltran is just horrible at passing and going forward. The strength of this RSL team is in playing attractive, high paced, creative soccer. That lineup allows them to do that. With Williams, Grabavoy, Gonzalez and Paulo Jr. as good substitute options from the bench.

  11. EAscott says:

    how the f#@$ did RSL only lose Findley and were able to pick up Alvarez? They are going to have an incredibly deep team, deepest in MLS IMHO. Hope they go far in the CCL…