Herriman • Real Salt Lake has had several players called up to national team duty before. But during the current international window, the number of players gone for Real are somewhat staggering.
A total of nine RSL players were called up to their respective national teams for various friendlies, World Cup qualifying matches and camps between Sept. 1 and 11. Sam Johnson is with Liberia; Albert Rusnák with Slovakia; Jefferson Savarino with Venezuela; Sebastian Saucedo, Brooks Lennon, Aaron Herrera and Justen Glad with the United States Men’s National Team Under-23 squad; Corey Baird with the USMNT senior team; and goalkeeper David Ochoa rounds out the list with the USMNT U-20 team.
Assistant coach Tyrone Marshall said that while it’s overall a positive to have that many players gone representing their countries, there’s a downside as well.
“It’s a good thing and a bad thing,” Marshall said this week. “The bad thing for us is that we’re not going to have those guys, the full complement of our roster.”
It’s one thing not to have nine players for training sessions. But RSL could be without all of them in its upcoming game Wednesday against the San Jose Earthquakes, who sit just one point and playoff position ahead of Real in the Western Conference standings.
Be that as it may, some players don’t seem too concerned at the potential impact of missing those nine, many of whom make regular appearances in the starting 11.
“Even though they’re all starters on a Saturday, but then Monday through Friday we mix up the teams and stuff like this,” defender Nedum Onuoha said. “So you spend a lot of time getting a lot of reps in with other people.”
Marshall said one of the toughest aspects of recreating the cohesion that group has comes throughout the week. He said the coaching staff has had to incorporate players from the Real Monarchs and the development academy just to get enough players on the training pitch.
“The biggest challenge is trying to get numbers in our practice, just not having that competitive vibe, especially leading into the San Jose game,” Marshall said. “We have to be creative with the guys that we have here.”
The biggest hurdle for RSL against San Jose might come on the attacking side. In Johnson, Rusnák, Baird and Saucedo, the club could potentially be missing 31 of its 40 total goals.
But Onuoha said with the likes of Damir Kreilach (four goals) and even Marcelo Silva (two goals), scoring shouldn’t be as big a problem as it appears.
“We do have goals in the team,” Onuoha said. “Obviously we’re missing the main, main goal threats. But I’d fancy us to score regardless of whoever’s on the field.”
Marshall acknowledged that the situation ahead will be difficult. But there’s some good news. Marshall said interim coach Freddy Juarez has been talking to general manager Craig Waibel, who in turn has communicated with USMNT U-23 coach Jason Kreis about possibly letting Saucedo, Lennon, Herrera and Glad come back to RSL early or after immediately their camp ends on Tuesday.
If that doesn’t happen, though, the team will be ready. Marshall said these types of situations are perfect for others on the roster to show they can play when called upon.
“We will miss our important guys on the field,” Kreilach said. “But we as a team we have depth in the team. We have a big squad and everyone will be replaced in a good way.”
RSL VS. SAN JOSE
At Rio Tinto Stadium
When • Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • KMYU