Real Salt Lake players enjoying life inside MLS bubble in preparation for tourney opener on Sunday
RSL players have been playing golf, ping pong, video games and cards during down time at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando
ORLANDO — As it turns out, life inside the MLS bubble has been pretty nice.
Boredom was one of the initial concerns expressed by players when the tournament was proposed a couple months ago, but now that Real Salt Lake has been in the bubble for nearly a week now at the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, the majority are finding it enjoyable.
“So far I have to say it’s been better than we thought,” said Albert Rusnak in a Zoom call with the media Friday afternoon.
“So far I have to say it’s been better than we thought.” — Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak
Home base for Real Salt Lake is the seventh floor of the Swan Hotel. When the players aren’t training — which they have four of six days since their arrival — MLS has created multiple ways for players to keep entertained.
There are three lounges set up on RSL’s floor, where players can play pingpong, cards or video games or simply hang out to get out of their room. Masks are being worn by the players when they’re out of the room.
“It’s well organized, we’re making the best of it. We have a lot of things to keep us occupied. It’s not like we’re sitting in our rooms the majority of the day,” said RSL coach Freddy Juarez.
Thursday was an off day for Real Salt Lake’s players in the build-up to their opening match on Sunday, and the majority of the team spent the afternoon on the golf course.
A total of 19 RSL players hit the links for 18 holes at Disney’s Palm Golf Course, but Justen Glad said he only played 14 holes.
“It was shocking,” he joked. “I ran out of balls.”
Despite losing so many balls, Glad called the course amazing and said he had a great time. Some players were also able to play volleyball and swim during their off day.
RSL has also been able to enjoy a couple of team dinners at restaurants on property, the first a seafood restaurant and the second a steakhouse.
While there are plenty of options to entertain themselves, Glad said there has definitely been a lot of screen time, especially for the younger players.
“I’m sure someone like Kyle (Beckerman) and some of the older guys aren’t playing Fortnite quite as much me and Aaron (Herrera) and Tate (Schmidt) are, but I think there’s a lot of options,” said Glad.
The other 23 teams in the tournament are also staying at the same resort in the MLS bubble, but there’s been virtually no interaction between teams. Rusnak said he’d love to go hang out with a couple of his Slovakian international teammates who are also in MLS, but knows he can’t.
“I know how important it is to not put myself or my team or them at risk,” said Rusnak.
RSL’s first game in the MLS is Back Tournament kicks off on Sunday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN) against the Colorado Rapids. It’s a 10:30 p.m. kickoff in Orlando, but the players didn’t seem too concerned by the late start as they’ve trained a couple times late at night this week to prepare for the conditions.