SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 2021 Major League Soccer season has started and all Real Salt Lake could do was watch.
The opening weekend consisted of 13 games, but RSL was not involved in any of them. That is because the Claret and Cobalt were dealt a bye to open the 2021 MLS season.
Juarez Remains Optimistic
It remains unknown as to whether or not RSL will benefit from the opening week bye. Manager Freddy Juarez, however, insists on being optimistic that the extended rest can be used to the club’s advantage.
“One advantage is that we get to watch them [Minnesota] play a game and try to get a good scouting report on them,” Juarez said when asked how he and his team is handling the bye. “The disadvantage is the rhythm of the game. They have had an opportunity to play a game at an MLS regular season pace and level,” he added.
Since Juarez has been with RSL, he has never had to endure an opening week bye. But that isn’t bothering him, he understands that scheduling is a difficult job for the league to handle and inevitably there will be occasions in which the scheduling does not work in RSL’s favor.
He is hopeful that the extra rest will only motivate and further excite the playing group to be ready for a difficult road test against Minnesota.
RSL has had more time to prepare for Minnesota than Minnesota has had to prepare for them. The Toons lost 4-0 on the road against Seattle and spent last week further preparing for the Sounders, while RSL was preparing for Minnesota.
Nonetheless, it remains unknown as to how the players will respond next Saturday evening. If they play as they did in Tucson during the preseason, he has no doubt that the team will put in a big shift and do everything they can to get a result on the road.
Juarez is thrilled with how the team progressed during the preseason. The development the team has shown under his leadership has been promising. So much so that RSL took home the 2021 Visit Tucson Sun Cup after victories against Colorado and Phoenix Rising.
It was disappointing that the final preseason game ended in a loss to LA Galaxy. Losing always leaves a sour taste in anybody’s mouth, but you often learn more about a person or a group when they lose.
It is a big year for RSL, arguably the most important MLS season in the club’s short 15-year history as it is still without an owner. The poor finish to 2020 also has a number of the club’s key officials, including Manager Freddy Juarez, in need of far more positive results to maintain job security.
The club has made a priority of signing more attacking-minded players. Players that offer creativity and excitement in the attacking third. RSL has struggled over recent years finding the back of the net but hope to change their fortune in 2021. Anderson Julio and Rubio Rubin are two players that excelled during preseason scrimmages. The signing of Bobby Wood has reinvigorated the fanbase and the future suddenly looks much brighter.
The upcoming fixture against Minnesota United is scheduled for Saturday, April 24 with kickoff expected for 6 p.m. You can stream the match for free on the KSL 5 TV app or on KSLSports.com.