MLS Cup: Real Salt Lake's Chris Wingert in mix for starting spot, but Devon Sandoval in doubt
KANSAS City, Kan. — Time is running out for Real Salt Lake’s trio of injured players, but at least two of them received good news this week ahead of their MLS Cup final clash against Sporting Kansas City (4 pm ET, ESPN, UniMas; TSN2/RDS in Canada).
On Thursday, Álvaro Saborío was declared “healthy” by head coach Jason Kreis, meaning the man who scored 12 goals in 16 appearances for RSL in 2013 is likely to start up top for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
“Álvaro has trained fully [in the past two weeks],” Kreis told reporters in his press conference following the team’s arrival here on Thursday evening. “I believe that what we’ve seen so far puts him in contention for both the 18 and the starting lineup.”
Saborio had been suffering from a pulled muscle in his leg sustained in extratime of RSL’s Western Conference Semifinal triumph over the LA Galaxy and missed out entirely on their Western Conference Championship clash with the Portland Timbers.
The team’s lone doubt on the backline, left back Chris Wingert, also received some good news on the injury front, and Kreis confirmed at his press conference after the team landed in Kansas City on Thursday that Wingert would likely be available for Saturday’s game.
“We believe that he is fully fit and ready,” Kreis told reporters. “He has trained now for the past 12 days, fully, and it looks like he’s going to be in contention for both the 18 and the starting lineup.”
That leaves forward Devon Sandoval as the lone injury doubt with less than 24 hours to go until the championship game. The rookie striker, who scored three regular season goals, broke his foot during the first leg of the Portland series, in which he found the back of the net. He played through the injury, starting their 1-0 win over the Timbers in the second leg of the series, but re-injured his foot in Wednesday's training session.
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Kreis told reporters Friday that a decision on Sandoval will be made following the team’s afternoon practice, while the player reported no signifcant change on the status of the re-injured foot.
“It’s feeling the same, but we’ll see how practice goes,” Sandoval told MLSsoccer.com.
With Saborio healthy, Sandoval would likely start on the bench in the final, though no other RSL attacker can offer the aerial presence he would bring to the table off the bench.