RSL attackers return from Gold Cup with injury concerns
Real Salt Lake are set to welcome back their remaining two Gold Cup participants as both Álvaro Saborío (Costa Rica) and Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador) return to the squad after their respective national teams were eliminated from the tournament this week.
“We're definitely glad to have them back,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. “Hopefully they can transition back into things.”
The two players join Will Johnson, who returned the week prior from his duty with Canada, and Nick Rimando, who never had to leave to fulfill his position as the US team's reserve keeper.
However, questions remain about the exact timing of Saborío and Alvarez's return to the RSL lineup as both are dealing with injury concerns. Saborío is still struggling with swelling on his surgically repaired knee — a condition he’s had to deal with for much of the season.
“Sabo’s knee was pretty well swollen,” head coach Jason Kreis told ESPN700 Sports radio in Salt Lake City. “His ankle was swollen as well as of Monday-Tuesday, the last time I saw him. So at that time we were kind of hopeful and crossing our fingers that he’d be available for Saturday.”
Meanwhile, Alvarez left RSL at the beginning of the month apparently healthy, but soon after his arrival with la Selecta, reports came out of a hamstring injury. The nagging ailment kept him out of a greater level of participation in the tournament, but he did begin to see action in the last couple of matches.
“I don’t think that Arturo Alvarez’s situation is such that he’d be available,” Kreis said. "Maybe—maybe—for spot duty off the bench.”
Since Alvarez and Saborío have been unavailable, RSL's attack has struggled somewhat, scoring five goals in five games since the Gold Cup kicked off.
Because of additional injuries up top and the surprise suspension of converted midfielder Jean Alexandre, the team was forced to play for most of Wednesday’s scoreless draw against Chicago with Luis Gil and Artur Aghasyan on the front line — two players who had never seen more than spot duty in that role for RSL.
“If you look at some of these last few games with Gold Cup, in any game maybe four out of your five best attackers aren’t even available," Grabavoy said.
To make matters worse, young Brazilian striker Paulo Jr. is still not ready for return following his hamstring strain, and Fabián Espíndola re-aggravated his own hamstring in just the third minute of Wednesday’s contest. His status for Saturday’s match against Toronto FC (9 pm ET; watch LIVE online) remains in doubt.
"We need to get everybody back in form," Grabavoy said. “This team is at its best when the head coaching staff has really difficult decisions to make. The more guys come back healthy, especially up front, gives us more guys that can score goals.”