It’s always good to play some games besides your own teammates. It kind of changes practice up a little, different spaces. A lot of the stuff you’re doing is small spaces, and this is a chance to open it up, get a game-like feel. —RSL's Kyle Beckerman
HERRIMAN — The first week of Real Salt Lake’s preseason only enhanced Kyle Beckerman’s “good vibe” about the upcoming 2018 season.
RSL’s captain was pleased with the fitness and quality he saw from the holdovers and newcomers during the first leg of the preseason at the Zions Bank Real Academy, which wrapped up on Monday. The new facility in Herriman presented a rare opportunity for the club to spend the first week of training Utah, which Beckerman said helped with team camaraderie.
“First week is really neat, ’cause you’ve got the Monarchs, you’ve got us, and today we played against the academy. It’s really just bonding with the RSL family and making sure everybody is together and knowing what the first team wants,” said Beckerman.
Camp concluded with Monday’s three 30-minute full-field scrimmages against the academy, with RSL prevailing by a combined 3-1 score.
“It’s always good to play some games besides your own teammates,” said Beckerman. “It kind of changes practice up a little, different spaces. A lot of the stuff you’re doing is small spaces, and this is a chance to open it up, get a game-like feel.”
The next phase of the preseason begins Wednesday in Tucson, Arizona, and Beckerman said the next step in preparing for the March 3 opener at FC Dallas is sharpening everything up from the first week.
Getting on grass should help with that sharpness, as will the extra week of fitness everyone already has under their belt.
“Ultimately if we want to be that team that plays the ball and we want to control and dictate games, it’s all about our sharpness, and if we’re sharp, things are going to come off for us and we’re going to score goals and we’re going to dictate games,” said Beckerman.
Real Salt Lake will play preseason games against two MLS opponents. The first is against the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday, and the second game is next Wednesday against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The coaching staff will likely give as many players as possible 45 minutes to continue increasing their full-field fitness.
The last phase of Real Salt Lake’s preseason will take place in Orlando from Feb. 12-23.
Last year’s slow start to the regular season ultimately cost RSL a playoff berth, but the focus in the first week of this preseason has been very high as the squad looks to hit the ground running in 2018. Simply making the playoffs isn’t the only thing on Beckerman’s radar either.
“We want to shoot high. Yeah of course we want to make the playoffs, but I think we want to do more than that. I think we want to be challenging for first in the conference, and in order to do that you’re going to have to get off to a good start and be consistent,” said Beckerman.