It was the worst possible scenario for a coach or general manager: watching your player go down with an injury in an All-Star game.
Yet that’s exactly what Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis and general manager Garth Lagerwey experienced on Wednesday night as they watched Jámison Olave, reigning MLS Defender of the Year, drop in the 31st minute following a sliding tackle of a ball intended for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.
After the acrobatic maneuver, Olave came up off the grass and at first appeared OK, but he went down again after a couple of steps. He tried to re-enter the game a couple of minutes later but instead called for a substitute moments after stepping out onto the pitch.
The preliminary diagnosis was a sprained MCL on his left knee, but he’ll be diagnosed further upon his return to Salt Lake. Kreis feared such an injury just a couple of days prior to the All-Star game.
“You try to look at it from a supporting the league standpoint,” Kreis told MLSsoccer.com from RSL’s training ground in Lehi, Utah, on Tuesday. “You try to say, 'Hey this is great for the league and I hope we do well against Manchester United,' but probably the more honest answer is that I hope my guys don’t play too long, and I hope neither one get injured.”
Despite the warranted fear of injuries, Kreis said he understands the importance of such a star-studded affair to highlight the brightest that the sport has to offer.
“I think that it’s still important," Kreis said. "We’ve all got to recognize that we’re selling the game whether that be exhibition games with clubs in the middle of the season or exhibitions with an All-Star team. We’ve still got to get ourselves in the mainstream conscience of your average joe sports fan in the US."
After the match and Olave’s injury, Lagerwey indicated that injuries in these circumstances are just an unfortunate part of the sport.
“All-Star games are played in every sport in America and we support having an All-Star game," Lagerwey said. “We want our guys to be recognized as part of a good team at RSL and get recognition because of our team success. That means playing in the game, and when players play in games they sometimes get hurt. It is part of being a pro athlete.”
Olave’s teammate Kyle Beckerman played the entire second half, and he had some bright moments as he tried to pick up the tempo as his team trailed 2-0. However, his attempts at a one-touch passing game never caught on, and his performance was lost in the 4-0 defeat at the hands of the EPL side.
For RSL fans, the entire event was likely overshadowed by the Olave injury and his potential loss for upcoming league games.