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(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) l-r Real Salt Lake President Bill Manning, owner Dell Loy Hansen, RSL new head coach Jeff Cassar and RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey. Cassar was named RSLís third head coach in the franchiseís 10-year history, Thursday, December 19, 2013. The hiring comes less than two weeks after Kreis, Cassarís close friend and confidant, left RSL to accept the coaching position at MLS expansion club New York City FC.
Real Salt Lake: RSL back to business as training camp opens
MLS » After short layoff, club begins preseason training Saturday in Arizona.
First Published Jan 24 2014 10:38 am • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:36 pm

Forty-nine days later, Real Salt Lake is back to it.

Forty-nine days after RSL lost the 2013 MLS Cup final to Sporting Kansas City in heart-wrenching fashion, the club is back to business as training camp for the 2014 season begins this weekend.

At a glance

RSL preseason glance

Additions » MF/D Jordan Allen, D Ryan Neil, MF Luke Mulholland, MF/D Joey Dillon, FW Daniel Jackson

Losses » D Brandon McDonald, MF Yordany Alvarez, MF Khari Stephenson, D Lovel Palmer, GK Josh Saunders, MF Enzo Martinez

Coaching staff » Jeff Cassar, Andy Williams, Craig Waibel, Paul Dalglish, Daryl Shore

Key preseason dates

Saturday-Feb. 1 » Training at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Ariz.

Feb. 4-13 » Training at the University of California-Irvine in Irvine, Calif.

Feb. 17-March 1 » FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

Feb. 19 » Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution

Feb. 22 » Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire

Feb. 26 » Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson

March 8 » Season opener: Real Salt Lake at L.A. Galaxy,8:30 p.m. MST

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But there’s a slight tweak.

Leading drills and blowing the whistles starting Saturday in Casa Grande, Ariz., will be Jeff Cassar, Jason Kreis’ right-hand man since 2007, as the former first assistant takes over as head coach of the club upon Kreis’ departure to New York City FC.

Less than two months after RSL trudged off the frozen field at Sporting Park on Dec. 7, players reported to Salt Lake City on Friday for entrance physicals before the franchise officially kicks off its 10th MLS season Saturday with its first of two training camps. Through the end of February, RSL will be bouncing between Arizona, Southern California and Utah as the club embarks on its new era under Cassar.

"We will have some challenges and we will have some change," RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said earlier this month. "But we tried to keep continuity and stability within the club."

It won’t be too hard to spot the newcomers.

RSL returns 25 players from last year’s Western Conference title team, but added youth to the ranks. The club signed RSL-AZ Academy product Jordan Allen to a Homegrown contract, added first-round pick Ryan Neil out of Cal-Berkeley and signed English midfielder Luke Mulholland from the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. Toss in third-round draft pick and Georgetown midfielder Joey Dillon and Coker College’s Daniel Jackson and RSL will have five newcomers who will mix in with the familiar faces off last year’s team.

Cassar, who described himself as a player’s coach at his introductory press conference in December, said the new coaching staff will add slight modifications to the style utilized under Kreis, but didn’t expect anything outrageously different entering 2014.

"What’s important is that they’re playing for the name on the front of the jersey and not the one on the back," Cassar said. "With this core group of players that we have, it’s not a problem. Everyone in that locker room works hard for each other, and will work hard for me and will represent this club very well."

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RSL now has six weeks before the 2014 campaign is officially underway in its March 8 meeting with the L.A. Galaxy at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.


Twitter: @chriskamrani

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