SANDY, Utah — Will Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert finally make his debut with the first team in 2013 as they host the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium (9 pm ET, watch on MLS Live)?
"I really hope so," said Wingert. "I am so ready to get out there and help the team. It has been tough watching from the sidelines. But I feel great now, and I've got some game time with the reserves. I think I'm ready and now it is just up to the coaches to decide."
RSL head coach Jason Kreis had been reluctant to put Wingert back in for a couple of reasons. First, Wingert had a setback last week in a Reserve League game in which he says he strained his quad.
"It was a little bit worse than I thought, so it held me out of a couple practices at the beginning of the week," said Wingert. "I could have gone as a sub, but when you are losing, you're not going to sub in a defender."
The second reason was the stellar play of the defense as they had posted a shutout the week before against Chivas USA, particularly the play of Lovel Palmer at left back. But after last week's performance, with two goals conceded against the Galaxy, there may not be a better time to bring Wingert into the lineup.
"I think he is one of the most underrated defenders in the league," said center back Nat Borchers. "He is so good in his positioning and is so smart out there. … I've played with him for a lot of years now, and I think Chris is one of the best out there and I'm excited to get the chance to play with him again."
With all the time Borchers and other outside back Tony Beltran has logged with Wingert in the past few seasons, the hope is that they instantly redisocer their chemistry.
"We'll find out," said Wingert. "I think you do to a certain extent. I don't know if we are going to be 100 percent as sharp as we would if we'd been playing together every week for half a season, but that is part of playing the game. We’ve had a bunch of different lineups at the back and throughout the team. Hopefully, I can get back in there and we won't miss a beat."
And that means defending the RSL way: via possession.
"The best way to defend against it is to just have the ball," said Wingert. "Hopefully, we can do a good job of possessing the ball in their half and kind of control the game and that will keep them away from attacking us."