SANDY, Utah — While Real Salt Lake are trying to get all of their pieces together, lock up the third seed in the West and get on the same page as a group heading into the playoffs, there is just one thing that stands in the way this week: the Portland Timbers.
Well, the Timbers and some lingering injuries, actually.
RSL were hopeful to have all of their components available for Saturday’s regular-season finale against Portland (9 pm ET; watch LIVE online), with the notable exception of Kyle Beckerman, who is currently serving the last of a three-game suspension for a head-butt against Daniel Paladini of the Chicago Fire.
Unfortunately, it looks as if defender Tony Beltran is still unfit for duty, as he only saw some fitness training on Friday in his ongoing recovery from an adductor strain. However, midfielders Will Johnson and Ned Grabavoy were participating fully and both appear to be available for selection against the Timbers.
Grabavoy has been bothered with a lingering adductor strain of his own, and expressed frustration with the situation.
“That’s one of those things were you feel like you’re so close at the end of the season, and you want to be 100 percent and going as hard as you can,” said the Chicago native. “Hopefully we’ve done the right things to put myself in that position.”
Meanwhile, another midfielder, Javier Morales, is still trying to reach full fitness at this most important point in the season.
“I’m feeling better every game, but I’m not feeling 100 percent yet,” said the Argentine playmaker. “It’s more physical, especially my left leg – it’s still feeling weak.”
Morales points out that this match against Portland is crucial not just because of what’s on the line and as a tune-up for the playoffs, but also just for the psyche of the squad.
“One game can change everything,” he noted. “If tomorrow we have a good game at home, I think our confidence is going to be OK. I have a good feeling because I think in the playoffs everyone is going to be a hundred percent, or close to it and playing together in a game. We haven’t all played together for a long time.”