This post is a bit late, but I just wanted to make fans aware of the occasionally tense training session at the University of Utah indoor practice facility on Thursday. Matias Mantilla got into it verbally with Yura Movsisyan on one occasion, and Mantilla got into with Chris Wingert on another. A few others could be seen getting frustrated with each other, whether it was from a tactical mix-up or simply a hard foul. After nearly two months of training, it was pretty clear Thursday that the players are sick of kicking each other and itching to get the 2008 season underway. I wouldn’t read too much into the flare ups, they were likely just the competition getting the better of the players.
Javier Morales, who’s probably too kind to yell at anyone, was in a particularly giddy mood at the end of Thursday training session. During shooting drills from the top of the box, Morales triumphantly celebrated each of his goals, often with an airplane run toward the corner flag. His finishing was pretty good, but not as good as the finishing of Robbie Findley, Yura Movsisyan and Kyle Beckerman.
Morales got a kick out of teasing Dema Kovalenko during the drills, likely the result of a friendly wager between the Argentinian and the Ukranian. Morales has an infectious personality, and if he puts together some solid performances on the pitch this year he could become an immediate fan favorite.
About five or six weeks ago during RSL’s preseason stint in Florida, I asked Morales why he seems to enjoy himself so much on the field. Through a translator he said, ‘I’m very fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love to do, for me it’s very important to enjoy being out on the field and showing that I’m enjoying myself. Definitely the results come better if everyone’s enjoying what they’re doing.’
Afterward, I asked him what the goal was for 2008, and he chimed in very quickly in English, ‘playoffs.’
Morales, who’s ability to speak and understand English gets better and better each day by simply interacting with his teammates, said he’s looking forward to taking English lessons soon.
Real Salt Lake is inviting fans to come mingle with staff and players at RSL’s annual Fan BBQ at Rice-Eccles Stadium at Noon on Friday as the team finishing up its final training session before Saturday’s game. Food will be provided free by Famous Daves.