The amount of time Real Salt Lake will officially have off between the 2013 and 2014 seasons as the club announced Monday its preseason schedule, which will kick off seven weeks after RSL's penalty-shootout loss to Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup final on Dec. 7.
RSL's preseason which will serve as the ceremonious kick off to the Jeff Cassar era features two training camps in Arizona and another in California across a five-week spanning from late January to early March.
The club's 10th season becomes official on Friday, Jan. 24, when players are slated to report to Salt Lake City for their respective entrance physicals. The next day, the club will make its annual trek south to the home of the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy outside of Casa Grande, Ariz. for its first preseason training camp.
RSL will train at Grande Sports World from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1.
After returning briefly to Salt Lake City, RSL hits the Golden State on Feb. 4 with a trip to Southern California for its second leg of preseason training. The team will train at the University of California-Irvine in Irvine, Calif. from Feb. 4 to 13. Returning to Utah for a weekend before returning to Arizona on Feb. 17, RSL will partake in a two-week stint in Tucson, Ariz., to participate in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament where for the third season in a row the club will participate in the round-robin competition, which also features MLS clubs Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids and New England Revolution, along with USL Premier Development League club FC Tucson.
The FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup will begin on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Following the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, RSL will take the next few weeks to prepare for the 2014 MLS regular-season opener against Western Conference rival L.A. Galaxy on Saturday, March 8, at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The next week RSL will travel to the Bay Area to take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, March 15. The club will see the Galaxy again on March 22 when the two square off in RSL's home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium, a match that will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
The five weeks will certainly be a transition.
Jason Kreis is gone after seven years at the helm and succeeding him is Cassar, previously an assistant with RSL since May 2007. Cassar was introduced as RSL's third head coach in franchise history on Dec. 19 and discussed his "opportunity of a lifetime." But there is work to be done yet after C.J. Brown returned to Chicago and Miles Joseph expected to follow Kreis to New York City FC. Cassar and general manager Garth Lagerwey are in the midst of piecing together a coaching staff under the new regime, but there is one assistant that will be a familiar face. Andy Williams will join Cassar's staff as an assistant.
Both Cassar and Lagerwey said they look to add three more full-time assistants by MLS SuperDraft combine in early January, which will be essential leading into Cassar's first draft as a head coach on Jan. 16 in Philadelphia.
I'll have more on Cassar and the new-look staff in the coming days. Happy Holidays, everyone.