MLS Cup 2013

Real Salt Lake's veterans remind youngsters not to take MLS Cup experience for granted

Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman

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USA Today Sports

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake's veteran players have some advice for the team’s younger players ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup title game against Sporting Kansas City (4 pm ET, ESPN, UniMas, TSN2/RDS).

“Enjoy it, but don't let it slip,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman told reporters. “Because you never know if you're going to get back here.”

The message has gotten through, apparently.

“Honestly, I never would have thought that in the second year of my career I'd be in the MLS Cup finals,” midfielder Sebastian Velasquez told MLSsoccer.com. “You have to realize that you don't know if you're going to be here every year.”

The 22-year-old Velasquez certainly has a different perspective than veterans Nat Borchers (32) Beckerman (32) and Nick Rimando (34). All three were members of RSL's 2009 MLS Cup championship team.

“It's tremendously difficult to get to a championship, much less win one,” Borchers told reporters. “You may only get one shot at one of these games in your career. So we feel very fortunate to be here.”

And RSL’s veterans aren’t joking around about it, either. If there are any younger players who don't quite understand how special it is, they're lined up in the goal for a game of “butts up.”

“And we hit shots at them until they get it," Borchers joked.

After a sendoff by about 100 flag-waving fans at Salt Lake International Airport on Thursday afternoon, RSL boarded a chartered flight for Kansas City ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup final. A second charter carried family members; a third – owner Dell Loy Hansen's private plane – took himself and members of the team's management.

The Claret-and-Cobalt have only been to one previous MLS Cup final before Saturday's showdown, but Rimando has been in goal for two. He won his first title with D.C. United in 2004.

“We say that to the guys a lot – you never know when you're going to get to your next championship game,” Rimando told reporters. “So really take it in and take advantage of it.”

The RSL veterans who won the Cup in 2009 didn't expect it to take four years for them to have another shot at it.

“I was just hoping in 2010 we'd be back, to be honest with you,” Borchers said. “But it's taken a little bit longer than we'd hoped. And now that we're back here, we're ready to go.”