LEHI — Today had the potential to be very a hectic journey for Real Salt Lake, but instead the trip to Monterrey, Mexico, will be a luxurious one.
After casually arriving at Million Air Terminal this afternoon, the RSL players will skip the frustrating TSA security lines and board a plane featuring nothing but first-class seats. Just over three hours later, they will arrive in Monterrey having avoided a nightmarish connection in either Atlanta or Houston.
"Half the battle when you're traveling is waiting. It's hurry up and wait. When you have a charter, it's your own plane you get to call the shots. It's a lot better way to travel," said RSL defender Nat Borchers.
When RSL chartered a plane to Costa Rica two weeks ago for its CONCACAF Champions League match at Saprissa, Borchers said the team arrived mentally and physically refreshed instead exhausted.
The quick trip will allow RSL to get an evening training session in tonight before calling it a day. The extra session could do wonders for helping the players adjust to the heat in Mexico too.
The luxury of traveling on a charter isn't something the players are taking lightly.
"Everybody understands from a financial perspective it costs a lot more to charter as opposed to taking a commercial flight. So we realize there's a lot on the line both financially and for the club," said Borchers. "You realize that when you're sitting on the plane."
HOPING FOR A BOUNCE BACK: RSL striker Alvaro Saborio was not himself last week against Colorado.
His first touch was noticeably off and his lackluster showing was a big contributor in an all-around disappointing attacking performance for the entire team.
RSL coach Jason Kreis attributes the struggles to Saborio's offseason knee surgery.
"It's early days for him to come off this knee surgery. I know because I've been in his shoes, you're not going to reach your full form, could be still another a month or so away," said Kreis.
Don't expect Kreis to bench him anytime soon though.
"He's capable of better performances than that, it wasn't great for him, but he still worked real hard and he was real good in training today, so we're hopeful for a real nice response for him in the next week," he said.
NOT LOOKING GOOD: Paulo Jr.'s status this Wednesday against Monterrey is in question.
The striker tweaked his hamstring this past Thursday in a Reserve League game against Colorado, but initially the severity of the injury didn't seem that bad.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian he was much more sore Friday and he didn't train Saturday in RSL's final Utah-based training session.
"I think he's a question at best for Wednesday," said Kreis.
BIG OPPORTUNITY: While Real Salt Lake is hopping on a flight today for Mexico, two RSL youngsters will be in Dallas trying to capitalize on their own opportunity.
Luis Gil, 17, and Donny Toia, 18, have joined the RSL-Arizona Academy squad that is participating in the prestigious 32nd-annual Dallas Cup which runs from April 17-24.
"Those two players in particular are so young, I really think the experience of playing in big, meaningful matches when they're still wearing our badge, is more important than them coming down and being in the stands to watch us play Monterrey," said Kreis.
RSL's youth team has been lumped into the 16-team Super Group which includes Arsenal and Barcelona. Its Group C opener is today against Mexican club Tigres at Pizza Hut Park. Its other two games are against Corinthians (Brazil) and Vancouver (MLS). If RSL finishes atop the group it advances to Friday's semis.
Real Salt Lake vs Monterrey
Wednesday, 8 p.m. at Monterrey, Mexico
April 27, 8 p.m. at Sandy