LEHI — Nick Rimando had just finished up his pregame meal and was getting dressed and ready to leave for Empire Field when word got out that Real Salt Lake's match with Vancouver might be postponed.
Because of rain in the Northwest? That was Rimando's initial reaction, but the root of the problem was a soggy temporary grass playing field that had been laid on top of the artificial turf at Empire Field. Sure enough, several hours before last Saturday's match, and before the players had even left for the stadium, the match had officially been postponed. It was the first postponed match in team history.
After the initial disappointment of traveling to Vancouver two days early for nothing had dissipated, the consensus within the club was that it was a blessing in disguise.
"We would've liked to play since we went all the way up there, but maybe in hindsight we'll look back and say maybe that was one of the good things that happened to us this year," said RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman.
RSL's captain was specifically referring to the extra rest, but hinted that playing on the soggy temporary field could've been dangerous.
Since losing in the Champions League final on April 27, RSL had played 15 matches in 74 days with an average span of five days between games. Doing so with a very shorthanded squad because of injuries and national team call-ups had taken a physical and mental toll on the squad recently.
With the league postponing last Saturday's match, by the time Real Salt Lake takes the field again this Saturday at home against San Jose, 11 days will have passed since its last match in Dallas.
"I try and turn it around a little bit and look at it as the glass is half full and say maybe this is exactly what our players needed was three days break to get them rested and recovered for the second half of the season," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.
Ironically enough, RSL is at the exact midway point of the MLS season having played 17 of 34 matches. When you factor in six Champions League matches and two U.S. Open Cup matches, it's already been a busy five months.
Following the postponement, Real Salt Lake's coaching staff and six players were able to re-book their flight for a Saturday return to Utah. Most of the players stayed the extra day in Vancouver. Rimando joked that it was a welcome break to relax in a hotel room in Canada with his sister-in-law and her three kids in Salt Lake City for the weekend.
Beckerman was one of the six players who came straight home. Following this Tuesday's practice at Xango Field, he said he felt refreshed despite one of the longer training sessions of the past few months.
"My muscles definitely have had some lingering things, hamstrings, groins, and it felt better today for sure getting those days off," said Beckerman.
Chase for the Shield
MLS's top teams
Team. . . GP. . . Pts.
Los Angeles 22 42
FC Dallas 21 38
Seattle 22 38
Philadelphia 19 31
Real Salt Lake 17 30
New York 22 29
Columbus 20 28
3 points for a win, 1 for a tie