SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake did something on Wednesday they haven't done in about eight months.
They practiced twice.
“We haven't had a two-a-day in quite some time,” said defender Nat Borchers. “I think preseason is the last time we got after it like this.”
Said midfielder Luis Gil: “It's a little different. We weren't used to it, but it's good. We don't have a game this weekend, so we've got to get at it this week and put in the work.”
RSL is in the midst of their second 14-day break in six weeks. Not exactly ideal for a team still in the hunt for the Supporters' Shield, perhaps, and definitely battling for one of the higher seeds in the upcoming MLS playoffs.
“Crazy schedule,” Borchers said. “I can't understand how we've got this break and we had a break a few weeks back. It definitely takes the wind out of our sails a little bit from that standpoint. But from the other standpoint, we get some good work in. I think you need days like this to really get your legs back.”
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Head coach Jason Kreis indicated earlier in the week that he wanted to do things a bit differently than he did during the last two-week break, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 13. That time, the team took it relatively easy, and some of the veterans got a week off.
But after wins over Portland and Columbus before the break, RSL returned to drop consecutive matches to Seattle and San Jose, only the second time in 2013 Salt Lake dropped two in a row.
“We didn't come back sharp from the last break,” Borchers said. “So we really need a good week of training.”
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Wednesday's afternoon session saw the team “working on some defensive stuff,” Gil said. “You can never get enough of that. And it's always good to get your feet moving around.”
In one respect, the break works to RSL's advantage. Captain Kyle Beckerman, goalkeeper Nick Rimando and leading scorer Álvaro Saborío are all off on international duty as the US and Costa Rica – who have both already clinched berths in the 2014 World Cup – play qualifiers on Oct. 11 and 15.
All four are expected to be available when Real Salt Lake travel to Portland on Oct. 19.
“It's good for us, because we don't have a game this weekend,” Borchers said. “ But the fact that LA and Seattle have national-team players and they're going to be gone this weekend – they're going to miss them.”