With a new season rapidly approaching, it appears things are far from settled for Real Salt Lake.
And that is certainly not the end of the world for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
While RSL boss Jason Kreis would no doubt like to see his squad at 100 percent health with its 2012 opener just 17 days away, the injury bug that has ravished numerous RSL mainstays has provided an opportunity for less experienced returners and newcomers to dig right in and get valuable training time.
Seven of Real's projected starting lineup have missed significant time, and are in various stages of recovery as the team departed Monday for the second two-week training stint in Arizona and participation in the Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament.
"We knew we had a lot of new players, a lot of young players, and there was a lot of teaching to be done, so in some ways to have less numbers to be able to focus on these guys has been good," said Kreis last week after the team returned to Utah briefly following 15 days of training in the Grand Canyon State. "They've done really well and improved and understand what we're asking little by little. Their development is moving forward, and I think probably more so than if we had everybody healthy, so that's a good thing."
It's likely that several of those players expected to be in the first choice lineup won't be yet ready to go when the season kicks off against defending MLS Cup champion Los Angles on March 10 at the Home Depot Center, but with a season that stretches from the second week of March to the final week of October before the addition of CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and postseason games, those players aren't likely to be rushed back until their ready.
Real faced two 125-minute, three "halves" matches during its first stint in the Desert, drawing Vancouver 1-1 on Feb. 10 and D.C. United 1-1 on Feb. 14.
Against the Whitecaps, both goals game in the opening 39 minutes, with Fabian Espindola equalizing the match on a penalty kick.
Against United, RSL burst out to a 1-0 lead on Jamison Olave's header on a Ned Grabavoy free kick.
Real will face four matches between Wednesday and March 3 as part of its participation in the Desert Diamond Cup at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz.
RSL will take on New York (Wednesday), Los Angeles (Saturday), New England (Feb. 29) and then in the championship or consolation match of the four-team tournament on March 3.
Real Salt Lake fan Branden Steineckert recently released a short video chant entitled "Believe" that has taken the RSL fan base by storm. Steineckert created the four-line chant, tying together what he felt like were the key elements of the RSL franchise and its dominant home-pitch atmosphere.
The results of Steineckert's effort, along with those of videographer Isaac Halasima, have been viewed more than 29,000 times as on Monday afternoon.
Check it out for yourself at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa1DJ008t9Y
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com