Real Salt Lake's game preparation is a 24-hour commitment
Sandy • Depending on the position they play, it has been estimated that soccer players run anywhere between three and six miles a game.
Yet there's more than running involved in playing a physical 90-minute game, which makes off-the-field commitment to preparation and regeneration even more important during the long Major League Soccer season.
With CONCACAF Champions League and, for a handful of players, international duty, preparation becomes even more important.
"That comes down to the very core of how professional you are," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "People speak about what it means to be professional. For me it means thinking about what you're doing all the time, not just on the training field or on the game field, but to be thinking about what you are doing all the hours away from soccer."
This week, RSL can enjoy a normal schedule between its 0-0 draw at Philadelphia last Friday and its 7 p.m. game Saturday against D.C. United at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Philadelphia match was the last of three games within a seven-day period.
"Everybody has some kicks and bumps and bruises; that's just the time of year it is," said RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman, also becoming a staple on the U.S. National Team. "You just try and do the right thing. You try and eat right. Try the cold tub and all that good stuff."
The ice bath, that terribly numbing 41-degree pleasure soak, has an positive effect on healing tissue as well as tendons and fast-twitch muscles.
It's just those first moments of shock.
"The worst is the beginning," Beckerman said of the soak. "But sometimes on hot days it's not too bad. The first couple minutes are pretty tough."
Recovery is a gradual process, one designed to lighten heavy legs. The process is a bit more difficult on a shortened schedule, the Wednesday-to-Saturday schedule.
"It definitely helps when you have a home game so you don't have to travel," said RSL midfielder and Canadian international Will Johnson. "When you start traveling to Panama a couple times a month, Costa Rica, it starts to add up. You don't refresh as quickly, but I guess that's what the offseason is for."
Being a pro also includes a spartan diet, which might be nearly as difficult.
No fast food. No pizza.
"Nothing fun," Johnson said.
It's all in the details.
"It's not an easy thing to do to make sacrifices and commitments off the field about what you put in your body all the time," Kreis said.
RSL vs. D.C. United
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
Rio Tinto Stadium
TV • CW30