Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach undergoes successful back surgery

Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach has undergone a successful surgical procedure on his lower back, the club announced Thursday.

The 33-year-old Croatian made five MLS appearances (three starts) this season before getting sidelined with the injury, scoring one goal in 298 minutes, with an exact timeline for his return to be determined in the coming weeks.

“While Damir’s rehabilitation showed signs of progress, undergoing this minimally invasive procedure will give him the best opportunity for a successful long-term outcome,” RSL senior director of athlete health and performance Theron Enns said in a release. “A timeline for Damir’s return to the field will be determined later as his rehabilitation progresses, but typically these surgeries result in a full recovery for the athlete. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Damir works as hard off the field in rehabilitation as he does on the field, and our staff will be with him every step of the way to assist. RSL will update his progress in the coming weeks.”

RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni shed more light on a potential return to action for Kreilach saying that a three-month time frame is "typically the best-case scenario" in a radio interview on Salt Lake's ESPN 700, which would leave the club without their standout DP until September.

Kreilach has been a centerpiece for RSL since his 2018 arrival to MLS, racking up 43 goals and 23 assists in 124 appearances (118 starts). He scored 16 goals and dished out nine assists in 2021, helping lead the club on a Cinderella run to the Western Conference Final of last season's Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Sans Kreilach, RSL have still gotten off to an impressive start in 2022, with their 25 points from 14 matches (7W-3L-4D) good for the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference as they chase a return to the postseason.