SANDY — A week after Real Salt Lake overhauled its roster by trading away three key veterans because of major salary cap limitations, the club announced its schedule for the 2013 preseason Thursday.
Players will gather in Utah on Friday, Jan. 18 for the six-week preseason, with most of the time spent in either California or Arizona.
The MLS regular season kicks off Saturday, March 2.
Real Salt Lake players will report to Utah for their entrance physicals Jan. 18, followed by two days of physical testing and training. Real Salt Lake will then travel to Casa Grande, Ariz. — home of the RSL Academy — for a week of training. After returning to Utah for a few days to recoup, the team will then travel to Irvine, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 31 for another week of training.
Following a weekend off in Utah from Feb. 8-10, RSL will then travel to Tucson, Ariz., for the final stretch of the preseason beginning Monday, Feb. 11.
While in Tucson, RSL will participate in the round-robin Desert Diamond Cup along with fellow MLS teams New York, Seattle and New England. It will face New York on Feb. 13, Seattle on Feb. 16 and New England on Feb. 20. Its last match in the Diamond Cup will be on Feb. 23, in either the championship match or third-place match.
RSL expects to be without four key players throughout big chunks of the preseason because of national team duty.
Luis Gil will miss almost the entire preseason because of international duty with the U-20 U.S. National Team, while Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Nick Rimando (USA) and Kyle Beckerman (USA) will also miss time because of World Cup qualifying.
RSL is coming off a successful 2012 regular-season campaign as it finished with a 17-11-6 record, and set a new franchise record for points (57) and goals scored (46). Despite finishing second in the West in the regular season, that success didn’t translate into the playoffs as Real Salt Lake was bounced by Seattle in the first round.