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Real Salt Lake coaches enjoy sliver of normalcy as players return to the training field for individual workouts

RSL held its third voluntary individual workouts on Monday, and coach Freddy Juarez said the players were able to get a lot more touches on the ball during the session.

FILE: Real Salt Lake’s Everton Luiz trains during the first day of voluntary individual training at the RSL Academy on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Courtesy Tyler Gibbons, Real Salt Lake

HERRIMAN — Real Salt Lake coach Freddy Juarez said if you ask any coach in the world, getting out on the field, going through a training session and interacting with the players is one of the things they enjoy most. It’s one of the reasons coaches look forward to the preseason so much, it gets them out from behind the desk and back on the field.

That feeling recently returned for RSL’s coaching staff now that MLS has allowed voluntary individual workouts. On Monday, Juarez said coaches from RSL, the Monarchs and the RSL Academy were all out on the fields in Herriman by 7:15 a.m. to get things set up for a revolving door of RSL players there for their individual workout about 8:15 a.m.

Juarez said the coaches were on the fields for four-plus hours Monday, and even though there were many restrictions in place — including disinfecting soccer balls between each rotation of player — there was normalcy in the process that made it feel like the season was around the corner.

“It’s awesome to see, we have Monarchs, ourselves, some Academy coaches, the field maintenance people, everyone coming together to see how we can get these sessions out for the guys,” said Juarez. “The medical staff, the science department staff, all the protocols these guys have to come through … it was nice to see everyone come together and run something pretty smooth.”

RSL held its first individual works last Thursday and Friday, and is planning on two more this week (Monday and Friday). The players will continue to do workouts from home on the other days, as Juarez said they don’t want to burn them out on individual workouts without knowing when the next phase of training will be permitted by MLS.

On Monday, RSL had three fields divided up into four quadrants. Six of those 12 quadrants were attacking stations, and the other six defending stations. Juarez said the players rotated through all 12.

“I know the guys would rather train with the team, but it was productive, good training sessions,” said Juarez.

RSL’s coach said the fitness from the players has been pretty good the first couple of sessions, which is a good sign they’ve been adhering to the workout requirements from home over the past two months.

The majority of players have participated in the voluntary workouts, and Juarez said that’s just fine as long as they’re doing the required fitness from home.

“When I spoke to the guys, 100% this is voluntary. I know a lot of times, even though it’s voluntary they want to go because they think there’s something from a coach they hold it against them later. We made it clear to the guys this is voluntary,” said Juarez.

Juarez said the coaching staff made a point to get the players more touches on the ball during Monday’s workouts after the rushed sessions the week prior. He said he hopes after a few days at home the players will be hungry to get out on the field together again this Friday — even if they’re separated into huge quadrants only within shouting distance of each other.