Real Salt Lake go full speed ahead with busy schedule
SANDY, Utah — It is tough for a team knowing it has three games in an eight-day span. But for Real Salt Lake, as they get ready to face FC Dallas Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium (9 pm ET; watch LIVE online), the task is made even tougher by the fact the club had four players away on international duty this week as well.
On Wednesday night, Will Johnson played 90 minutes in the Canadian national team's 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. Meanwhile, Álvaro Saborío logged 90 minutes for Costa Rica in their 1-0 loss to Peru, and Kyle Beckerman played all 90 in the historic 1-0 US win over Mexico. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando traveled with the US team to Estadio Azteca and watched that one from the bench.
So the fact RSL have the Dallas game, a CONCACAF match against Tauro of Panama on Aug. 21, and then a trip to Philadelphia three days later is daunting. But Beckerman thinks that national team duty may actually have some benefits as well.
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"We are going to have to get up for it and find that energy, match that intensity," he said of playing in the first game against Dallas. "We need to be really sharp and hopefully that puts us up because a lot of the time when you come back from international duty, guys are really sharp, playing at a higher tempo."
FC Dallas, after big struggles earlier in the year that included a 13-game winless streak, have found their form lately, going 3-1-1 in their last five games.
"They are a team that is incredibly hungry right now, some confidence about them as well," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis.
Besides Rimando and Beckerman, FCD's Brek Shea also played for the Americans against Mexico, picking up a second assist on the game's lone goal — a play started by Beckerman.
"If you look last year, he did the same thing, and that was the breakout of Brek Shea on the international stage; he went crazy after that," said Beckerman of Shea's strong international play. "Hopefully, we'll be able to tame him for a game and he can do his thing after us."
So how does a player deal with having four games in 10 days like the internationals?
"It's tough," said Johnson. "You have to be ultra-professional, pay attention to the details even more than usual; take care of the body and do everything you can to get mentally and physically for three very important games here with Real."
With the value RSL have put on their Champions League appearance, it is unlikely Johnson, Beckerman and Saborío will log all 90 minutes against FC Dallas, but they are ready if called upon.
"I think so," said Johnson if he is fit enough to play four games in 10 days. "You would probably have to ask Jason about that, though."
Of course, asking the coach doesn't necessarily mean he will reveal much.
"It is yet to be seen," said Kreis on how their playing time will affect his decision. "I am not going to reveal too much about it, especially about [Saturday] night, but I will say this, this week, we are going to test our depth probably more than we have all season."