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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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After short offseason, RSL players ready to get going again

It was big weekend, in case you missed it … with goalkeeper Nick Rimando earning the start for the U.S. in its friendly draw against Chile, midfielder Arturo Alvarez finishing his job helping El Salvador qualify for the Gold Cup this summer, and the rest of the RSL players opening preseason training camp down in Arizona.

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"I'm excited to play soccer," defender Chris Wingert said.

Wingert said he didn't play as much during the offseason as he usually does, because he mostly stayed in Utah after buying a house here instead of returning to New York and jumping into training games with other pros from the area. That fit well with what team officials wanted, too.

"That was a big thing that we spoke about in my meeting at the end of the year, that they wanted me — and most other guys — to take some time basically off and get some rest, because we had played so many games," Wingert said. "My body feels good, and mentally, it's a good thing, because I'm excited to play some soccer."

Veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman expressed similar sentiments, after spending part of his offseason vacationing in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Among the highlights? Watching a Real Madrid game and enjoying being immersed in the European soccer culture.

"I'm ready," he said. "I haven't played soccer in a month and a half or so. So I want to get back. I'm excited to play again. It's kind of just the right amount of time" to have between the end of one season and the start of another.

The team is training through the end of the month at the Grande Sports World training complex in Casa Grande, and will play the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps in a scrimmage Feb. 1 before returning to Utah for several days of training.

Offseason lasted barely two months.

"It does seem like it was kind of a short break," said defender Robbie Russell, who reported to camp wearing a thick black beard that made fellow defender Jamison Olave laugh when he first saw him. "But you always get a little excited with every new season that's going to start. Excited to see new faces and who's going to be around and who's not going to be around. … It will be interesting."

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