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No longer snowed-out, RSL preps for the firepower of Toronto FC

Published February 28, 2017 2:58 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy • Yura Movsisyan conceded that Toronto FC indeed has some firepower. With Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and one of the most-expensive rosters in Major League Soccer, that's a given. But the Real Salt Lake forward is out to set a tone for his club ahead of Saturday's 2017 season-opener in Sandy.

"I think it's more about us," Movsisyan said. "Remember, they're coming to Rio Tinto. We're not going away. It's on our ground, it's on our home field, it's on our terms."

For just the second time in club history, RSL opens an MLS regular-season campaign in Utah, the last coming in 2008, when it hosted the Chicago Fire at Rice-Eccles Stadium 10 seasons ago. Movsisyan said RSL's goal-production during the five-week-long preseason is an important development considering the three different stops, various environments and teams faced.

"Obviously these preseason games are tough to play in, but you're working for a different purpose: To get fit, to get the team right," he said. "I think we scored a good amount of goals to be excited about the coming season."

RSL went 2-1-5 in eight preseason matches. But back along the Wasatch Front, RSL was finally able to train Tuesday after being snowed-out thanks to Monday's storm that dumped several inches in the Salt Lake Valley. With banks of snow pushed off to the side at America First Field, Movsisyan said the team is used to these elements.

"We don't complain," he said.

There's no time to. They have the defending Eastern Conference champs in town in four days.

"It gets better every time," Movsisyan described the start of every new year. "I'll tell you what, it just gets more exciting. The older you get, the more you start appreciating the little things. It's not that little to get to the season-opener."

» Waibel discusses latest global search

A little more than an hour after RSL announced a new multi-year contract extension for forward Joao Plata, general manager Craig Waibel stood in the media room at Rio Tinto Stadium Monday discussing what's next for this roster. Plata's new deal makes him RSL's third Designated Player, but Waibel said the club remains active in search for as many as two impact foreign players.

"One of the things that we've been true to over the last year-and-a-half is being patient and waiting for the right guy. We'll continue to do that," Waibel explained. "It's unfortunately my job to maintain the patience. It's not always easy publicly to explain that, but the last thing we want to do is lock an influential player in a long-term deal that ties the club up contractually unless they're the exact right fit. We're at the point now where we really like our roster. We like the guys. We understand there's still a ton of development for quite a few of them.

"At the same time, the guys we bring in have to make us exponentially better at this point, and players that make you exponentially better also have exponentially-longer contracts than one year at a time. We need to make sure we make that right decision. We've been scouring the globe and we've been in the middle of a lot of conversations; we've been very, very close to making those commitments. Most of the time it comes down to money, but every once in a while … we've backed off of one player in the last three weeks that after meeting with, we just realized wasn't the right fit for us."

» Phillips dealing with hamstring injury

RSL's starting left back Demar Phillips is dealing with hamstring tightness suffered the last week of preseason in Southern California. The 33-year-old Jamaican defender started 23 games in 2016 and finished with five assists. Phillips trained partially on Tuesday, but took laps while scrimmage sessions took place.

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani






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