Real Salt Lake held an open practice session at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night for season ticket holders to attend. It began at 6:30 p.m., and there were roughly a hundred fans watching. It seemed to be a fairly normal training, but a full team practice isn’t something we normally get to see.
Acosta, Allen, Barrett, Beckerman, Beltran, Fernandez, Holness, Horst, Lennon, Maund, Movsisyan, Mulholland, Phillips, Plata, Rimando, Rusnak, Saucedo, Schmidt, Schuler, Silva, Sunny, Van Oekel, Velazco, Wingert
What went on
- The team started with two groups of 5 v 2
- Dribbling/passing drills
- Attacking drill
- Practice 11 v 11 game
During the attacking drill, there were practice mannequins on the field. The players were divided into two team, and would start from the back and do very calculated passing up the field and finish with a shot at goal. This was mostly with Lalo Fernandez in goal. Without any defenders he conceded a lot, as you'd expect. This part of practice was when Cassar was most lively and intense. One team would run the drill while the other players waited behind the mannequins. Once one team finished, the other would run the drill. Cassar would tweak positioning and movement.
The most interesting part of practice was the game. The first bit was 10 v. 10 with Rusnak on all time offense. They then added another attacking player and Rusnak stayed on one team. Rimando was in one goal, and Van Oekel and Fernandez switched off in the other for the majority of this portion. There weren't many goals, but it was good to see each set of players work together. The lineup for each team changed, but they were always pretty even to keep it competitive. No one jumped out as particularly bad, but also no one stole the show.
Jeff Cassar was one of the biggest surprises for me during practice. He had a commanding presence. He both calmly instructed players and shouted angrily. I loved it. Cassar and Beckerman were giving Acosta instruction on how they wanted him to position himself during a drill. Cassar, when one group was not executing a drill correctly, shouted, "Clean that sh*t up! Do it again and do it right!" He yelled at Sunny during the practice game, "You're standing when you should be moving, go!"
From where I was watching, he was giving clear instruction and had high expectations for his orders to be followed. This is an important skill for a coach, and the team was responsive to it.
Jordan Allen and Joao Plata did not practice with the rest of the team. They did a lot of jogging, and Plata was clearly going easier than Allen. Plata used his time jogging around the field and doing some passing drills with a trainer. In addition to jogging and passing, Allen did some sprints and dribbling drills.
The glaring omission was up and coming star center back Justen Glad. He was not present at all as he is still recovering from a knee injury picked up in the final game of U-20s World Cup qualification.