SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis would have been happier if there hadn't been a two-week break in the middle of his team's Western Conference Championship series against Portland, but he's willing to acknowledge that it may have helped a few of his players.
“Yeah, I guess,” he told reporters. “For me, this time of year is all about momentum and moving things forward ... I would have liked to see it just continue on. Especially as somebody who feels like our team has finally gained some real momentum.”
Yet it still may not have been enough time for the team's leading scorer, Álvaro Saborío, to take part in RSL's decisive clash with the Timbers on Sunday night (9 pm ET, ESPN). The Costa Rican striker continues to recover from a muscle strain suffered in RSL's 2-0 Western Conference Semifinals win over the LA Galaxy on Nov. 7.
On Tuesday, the Costa Rican forward jogged around the field but did not participate in the scrimmage.
“Sabo is recuperating and doing pretty well,” Kreis said. “I think that he'll be questionable for the weekend.”
RSL sprinted out to a 4-2 lead in the first leg against the Timbers just four days after eliminating the Galaxy – a victory that sent the two-time defending champions packing after LA took a 1-0 lead in the first leg of the Conference Semis.
But two games in four days and three games in eight left the Claret-and-Cobalt a bit worn down.
“I thought we really needed the rest,” said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman.
A one-week break before the second leg in Portland would have been “ideal,” but Kreis took the two-week break as an opportunity to work most of his team “pretty hard.”
“We got a couple of guys a little bit of rest that needed it,” he said. “A couple of guys had some knocks and stuff.”
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The one player who's definitely out is defender Chris Wingert, who suffered a fractured rib and a pneumothorax when he was hit in the chest after fouling Portland midfielder Diego Valeri in the first leg of the series.
But the team is harboring some hope that, if they hold onto their advantage over Portland and play for the MLS Cup, Wingert may be available.
“It is pretty serious, but they've got it all sorted out now,” Kreis said. “And MLS Cup — that'll be another two-week break if we're fortunate enough to be there. And we believe that by that time, Wingert should be recuperated and ready to go.”