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Mexico's Monterrey Neri Cardoso, left, fights for the ball with U.S. Real Salt Lake Robbie Isaac Russell during a Concacaf Champions League first leg final soccer match in Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday, April 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)
Kreis credits retiring Russell for helping change RSL culture

Defender was part of team’s turnaround into a champion.

First Published May 15 2013 02:44 pm • Last Updated May 15 2013 11:58 pm

Former Real Salt Lake defender Robbie Russell announced Wednesday that he would retire from Major League Soccer after a 13-year professional career.

Russell came to RSL in the summer of 2008 and was part of a turnaround that saw a previously fledgling franchise make a playoff push that year.

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A year later, Russell scored the final penalty kick to give RSL the MLS Cup.

"In my eyes, Robbie Russell has been a huge contributor to turning around the culture of Real Salt Lake," coach Jason Kreis said. "He’s somebody that should be remembered always as a big, big member for RSL."

RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando said that 2009 championship formed a special bond between the members of the team, Russell included.

"You hold something together that nobody else can hold," he said.

Russell will retire after D.C. United’s match on Sunday. He will now enroll in Georgetown University’s pre-medical program with hopes of going on to medical school.

"Doctor or not, he’s still the smartest person I know," Rimando said.

Discipline disciple

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For some time, Kreis has been an advocate of the MLS Discipline Committee taking more action when dealing with players.

"I think we’ve reached a stage in our league where I don’t think the players treat each other with enough respect," Kreis said. "I think stuff that happens after the ball has gone away and stuff the referee is not picking up, people need to be held accountable."

Nevertheless, after the committee handed down a one-game suspension Wednesday to RSL’s Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Kreis said he believed the defender’s takedown of Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio was incidental.

"But the committee has had a chance to look at it time and again, and I haven’t looked at it," Kreis added.

Injury update

Forwards Alvaro Saborio and Robbie Findley were back training with the team Wednesday after missing time with various injuries. Midfielder Cole Grossman also trained fully for the first time since suffering a concussion in March.

Findley, who was coming off a groin injury when he hurt his knee in a shooting drill late last month, said he hoped to be ready for this weekend’s game against Chivas USA.

"It’s been a while," he said. "I just wanted to let it heal and get out and do it right so I’m not taking any steps back."


Twitter: @aaronfalk

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