It may not seem like it with the extra foot of snow Mother Nature dumped on Salt Lake City Wednesday night, but kickoff for the 2008 MLS regular season isn't far away.
In preparation for its March 29 home opener against Chicago, RSL began its second leg of training camp today in Sunrise, Fla., the first of nine days in the warmer climate. The fourth-year MLS club spent much of the past two weeks training in California, and it will spend three weeks in March training in Argentina.
RSL got a major boost on Thursday in an effort to make a run at its first playoff appearance in franchise history. A month after hinting the club was pursuing an American playing in Norway, general manager Garth Lagerwey confirmed that RSL picked up defender Nat Borchers who'd spent the past two years in Norway. The Tucson, Ariz., native played in MLS from 2003 to 2005.
His return is a real boost for RSL's back line, which already includes newcomers Ian Joy and Jamison Olave. Joy, an American, has been with the club since the start of training camp, and Olave, Colombian, is still in the process of finalizing his contract and paperwork with the league.
"We are ecstatic to bring Nat Borchers on board as a member of Real Salt Lake. He is a defender who has already had success in our league, has enjoyed success abroad, and is someone that should continue to succeed upon his return to MLS," said Lagerwey. "This acquisition is consistent with our goal of building a core of talented players that can contribute now and for the long term as well. We think we've added a tremendous and experienced talent today that will make our team better immediately."
Borchers was acquired via an MLS allocation draft on Thursday. San Jose had first crack at Borchers but opted to pass, as did Toronto with second selection. With the third selection, RSL jumped at the chance to grab the experienced defender.
The 26-year-old defender is currently dealing with an ankle injury, but he's expected to join his RSL teammates in Florida today to begin his rehab.
"He may not be able to play from Day 1, but he's a guy we acquired for the long haul," said Lagerwey. "He's a great person, with great character, as well as a great soccer player."Borchers spent the past two seasons with Odd Grenland in the Norwegian first division but opted out of his contract when his team was relegated at the end of the 2007 season.
ENDLINES: To make room for Borchers, RSL waived defender Willis Forko, who'd been with the club for two years ... Argentine midfielder Matias Cordoba is expected to join his teammates in Florida today after finally attaining his work visa.