SUNRISE, Fla. Months before the MLS preseason ever began, Real Salt Lake's coaches mapped out how they wanted to the preseason to unfold down to the most insignificant detail. In theory, the precise planning should create a crescendo that peaks on opening day.
Of course injuries and player movement both incoming and outgoing are unavoidable, but so far things are going well according to RSL head coach Jason Kreis.
"We laid out a plan for the entire preseason. There were objectives that we had in California, and I think we felt very good about that," said Kreis, whose team opened up its eight-day stint in Florida on Friday. "There are more objectives for this trip and further objectives for the third trip."
In California the team started simple, spending virtually the entire week and a half working on defensive tactics, both in small groups and big groups. RSL gave up 45 goals in 2007, so its easy to see why it was such an early priority.
With a solid base of fitness and defensive understanding, Kreis is eagerly adding to the list in Florida.
"We'll continue to work on that, as well as move things a little more tactically to the other side of the ball, and talk about what we want done when we have it," said Kreis.
In the second of Friday's two training sessions, this increased attention to the creative side of the ball enabled Fabian Espindola and several others to really shine with their finishing ability. Even new defender Ian Joy got in on the mix with a jaw-dropping finish. During one of RSL's 5-on-5 scrimmages to conclude the day, Joy cracked a powerful volley into the back of the next on a cross.
Joy's a defender who says he likes to push up and support the attack, and it's now easy to see why.
Friday also marked the first day Argentine midfielder Matias Cordoba trained with his new team. The technical midfielder was able to more than hold his own throughout most of the first training session, but his fitness got the better of him in the second training session, and perhaps justifiably so. Cordoba arrived in Florida from Argentina only the day before.
"If we took our players down to Argentina we certainly wouldn't ask them to do a two-a-day the very next day, so it was a little bit of an unfair thing we asked him to do there," said Kreis. "Sometimes it's good to throw 'em right into the fire, and he's handled it well. He's tried to get through it the best he can."ENDLINES: Real Salt Lake is scheduled to have a 60-minute scrimmage with Florida International this morning ... Chris Lancos no longer factors into RSL's plans, and he's been given permission to pursue other options ... For more notes from training camp, visit the Real Salt Lake blog online at www.deseretnews.com.