Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SANDY— Fresh off a three-game road trip, Real Salt Lake faces another quick turnaround. This time, it has three games in eight days.
Luckily for RSL, all three games will be inside the confines of Rio Tinto Stadium.
"I'm so sure all the guys are excited. We can't wait to get back in the Riot," said fullback Lovel Palmer at Thursday's training session. "The fans, they've been longing to see us, and as you can see in the training, the intensity is very high. Everyone is pretty much waiting on Saturday to get on the field and get going."
Palmer has impressed in six starts this season, which has made the club more confident in its depth along the back line.
"It gives us a lot of confidence that no matter what lineup we have out there, that we can still play well and hopefully get a shutout," said RSL defender Chris Wingert.
"There's no doubt in my mind that this team is very deep, and I think that everybody who's been called upon have stepped up and done a great job," added Wingert. "And we're going to need them to continue to do that as we go through the rest of the season."
Palmer's performances have created meaningful competition in training among all the defenders, as they know they have to stay on their toes to have chances to get on the pitch in matches.
For his part, Palmer says he'll keep trying to work as hard as he can each day.
"Train hard everyday. That's what I have control over. What more can I do to keep pushing Tony and Chris, because as I've always said it's healthy competition and as long as I'm training well it's going to keep those guys on their toes," Palmer said.
HOPING FOR A CUP RUN: RSL learned this week it will host the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL next Tuesday in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The silver lining of the tournament is that the champion gains an automatic berth into the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League tournament.
"I've never had a real successful run in the Open Cup, so hopefully with us being able to concentrate a little bit more on that this year without Champions League and things like that, it'd be really nice to take advantage of another situation where you can get into Champions League," said Wingert. "So I'm sure we're going to take it real serious and hopefully have a good performance on Tuesday."
RIMANDO UP FOR WEEKLY AWARD: After last Sunday's 4-1 win at Chivas USA, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was nominated for the MLS' Week 12 Save of the Week on mlssoccer.com. Voting ends this Friday at midnight.
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