Real Salt Lake Fixated On Colorado Rapids Ahead Of MLS Is Back Campaign
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake has been in Orlando, Florida for a week preparing for their upcoming MLS Is Back tournament campaign that will begin on July 12 at 6:30 p.m.
The first task for the Claret and Cobalt comes against their arch-rivals, Colorado Rapids. It will be the first time either team has seen the pitch since the league temporarily shut down in March.
Fortunately, a number of RSL players are familiar with the tournament format, which replicates FIFA World Cup’s. Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera both participated in the U-20 World Cup in 2017 while captain Kyle Beckerman has competed for the national team in the World Cup as well. All three players echoed each other by referencing the importance of the first game.
“You do not have to be the best team on the day, you just have to find one or two opportunities and take advantage of them,” Glad said.
Unfortunately, Nedum Onuoha, one of the more experienced players on the RSL roster, will not participate in the tournament. Instead, he has opted to stay home in Salt Lake City and spend time with his family during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Regardless, Real Salt Lake hopes to pick up as many points as possible during the first three group stage games which are all worth three points if they can win. Then, they will focus their attention to qualifying for the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.
Manager Freddy Juarez believes that his team is in a good mental space ahead of their debut game.
“We actually spent most of our Colorado (Rapids) game-planning when we were back in Salt Lake City,” Juarez said. “We knew that the Florida heat was going to have an impact on the players upon arrival and we did not want to overload them with information while their bodies were trying to acclimatize,” Juarez added.
Real Salt Lake’s first game is on Sunday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. mountain time. The match will be broadcast on ESPN.
Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.