LEHI, Utah — Real Salt Lake got 2011 started on January 20, about two weeks earlier than the rest of MLS. And although they’ve only played seven league matches, they have played six additional high-level competitive matches in the CONCACAF Champions League, traveled to central Mexico and Central America, as well as both coasts.
As a result, they’re experiencing something unusual for this point in the season: fatigue.
Coach Jason Kreis pointed to a low level of energy in the second half of last weekend’s match against Houston as an indicator of his team’s rapidly emptying gas tank.
“I think we have to look at that realistically, and say it's fatigue,” Kreis said of the less than stellar work rate his team exhibited in the late stages of the match.
Kreis’ RSL squad has been one of the higher-energy teams over the last couple of years, and as a result, the sluggish legs have really stood out. Each of the players reportedly came into camp in excellent shape in January, but the long and winding road they’ve been on for the past several months has taken both an emotional and physical toll on the squad.
“We’re going to have to be very mindful of our players’ energy level,” explained Kreis about how to deal with the situation, “such that we don’t over-do it in the trainings, and have them over-trained.”
Because they do not play until Sunday against FC Dallas (7 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live), they did not have their first training session this until Wednesday. And each of those sessions thus far have been only an hour, which is short for a typical mid-week practice.
“Our plan was to shorten the training sessions, and try to get the guys rested and get the energy level back and right for Dallas,” Kreis said.
He is hoping that these adjustments will do the trick.
“You make decisions like this and hope that you are always going to get the outcome that you desire,” said Kreis. “But the proof is always in the results, and how the guys play.”