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Real Salt Lake: Frigid temperatures await RSL at MLS Cup in Kansas City

SANDY — Real Salt Lake is chartering a flight to Kansas City this Thursday, and it’s a good thing too — the equipment staff will be packing a lot of extra cold-weather luggage.

Even though coach Jason Kreis joked last week that his sister-in-law meteorologist promised great weather, the forecast in Kansas City for MLS Cup this Saturday is very chilly. The forecasted high on Saturday is 27 degrees, a steep drop-off from the forecasted high of 60 degrees on Monday.

“She let me down for sure,” said Kreis after Sunday's practice. “I think she had her forecast three or four days early.”

A week and a half ago when Sporting Kansas City beat visiting Houston in the Eastern Conference final, the temperature dipped into the teens during the match — the coldest game in MLS history since the league started tracking temperatures back in 2003.

The weather figures to wreak havoc in Utah too. With snow in the forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday, RSL is already exploring options about indoor training facilities later in the week.

Kreis said he’s taking the extra complications all in stride.

“A lot of logistical problems at this time of year are a good thing to have,” said Kreis, whose team has never practiced or played a game in December.

As for the in-game logistics because of the brisk temperatures, Kreis said they’ll definitely have an impact on the match.

“Guys' point of view it means their extremities get a little bit numb, and one of the most important extremities is your foot,” said Kreis. “We’ll have to be mindful about what they’re doing at halftime to try and get that situation back and keep their hands warm. I think it has some effect, but both teams are on the same field.”

SUBTLE RIVALRY: It’s natural that Real Salt Lake has developed a rivalry with conference foes like Colorado and Los Angeles, teams it has consistently met two to three times annually the past nine years. But Kansas City? How did Kansas City emerge as a rival with RSL when the teams have only met twice since 2011?

Kreis said it all started in a preseason game in 2011, a match that was eventually abandoned with the score tied at 2-2 following a second-half, benches-clearing scuffle.

“It got way out of control, very physical affair. You could tell Kansas City was just starting to implement a really competitive nature about themselves and didn’t want to go into any match losing a game,” said Kreis. “We were embarrassing them a little bit in preseason, 2-0, knocking the ball around and things got completely out of hand and the ref couldn’t control it.”

The fight ensued after former Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza went in on a studs-up challenge on star RSL midfielder Javier Morales.

“Ever since then there’s certainly been a rivalry, physical confrontations between players. You can tell it means a little extra when these two teams play against each other,” said Kreis.

SPIRITED TRAINING: RSL was back on the training field on Sunday after a three-day Thanksgiving break, and Kreis put his players through a tough 1 hour, 40 minute session. He was very pleased with the reaction from his players.

“Oftentimes when you come back from a several-day break, we get a lackadaisical effort, but not today. They were ready to roll, so I think that will speak good things for this weekend,” said Kreis.

Devon Sandoval was the only player missing from Sunday’s practice. The rookie striker has been dealing with an undisclosed injury going back to the Portland series and the coaching staff hopes some extra rest gets him ready for MLS Cup. Kreis said Sandoval should resume training on Wednesday.