Real Salt Lake opened the 2015 season with the first session of training camp today at Soccer City in Draper. Let's just say we're excited. For the first time in what feels like ages, RSL are healthy a whole as a squad.
The only area of concern is Justen Glad, who is recovering from an off season surgery, and who was the only player who did not participate at all in training.
Watching the session, you got the feeling that this is a team full of excitement and anticipation for the new year. Broken down into several technical and tactical sessions, the practice was fast paced, allowing for everyone to get touches and some basic fitness. Once again, the off-season training regimen seems to have kept everyone in shape during the short break since the playoffs, giving the team the ability to move through the session without having to break it down to just fitness.
Where training got really interesting was in the 5 v. 5 plus 2 and the 6 v. 6 short sided games. The 5 v. 5 was a possession drill, counting passes completed between the 5 on each team and the two involved neutrals. As all of us would expect, there was the normal fast paced RSL "tiki-taka" passing with Javi and Kyle dictating the play on their respective teams. What was interesting was the insertion of the younger and newer players making an impact on the play on both sides of the ball.
Sebastian Saucedo, Demar Phillps, Pecka, Phanuel Kavita, and even John Stertzer (back from injury) really stood out as well as Jordan Allen (also back from injury) and Jamison Olave (back from NYRB) making impacts. I had forgotten how solid Olave is with the ball at his feet. Confident and collected, he will add a dimension to our defense that, at times, has been missing.
Other stand out notes:
- Demar Phillips is fast. He got up and down the field on the wing several times making carefully timed and well executed runs into the corner.
- Bofo Saucedo is the truth. The kid, yes he's a kid, is special. He's great with his feet and incredibly dynamic with the ball, he added a lot of creativity when on the field.
- Pecka is the real deal. There was a moment where he sold me during the 5v5. Simple and smart on the ball with great control and awareness. It will be interesting to watch how he folds into the squad.
All in all, the team was excited and having fun. There's a sense of renewal as we start up again. Quite honestly, we can't wait.
- Justen Glad - Recovering from offseason surgery - Did not participate
- Lalo Fernandez - Recovering from offseason surgery - Participated in some GK drills (mostly helped)
- Joao Plata - picked up a slight knock in the last small sided game.