SALT LAKE CITY – Throughout preseason, Real Salt Lake have experienced injuries just like any other squad. Unfortunately for RSL, those injuries appear to be lingering and are almost exclusively among key starters.
“I’m not sure that my concern could have increased,” head coach Jason Kreis told media after training on Friday about his anxiety regarding the situation. “It was at maximum level the entire time. It’s going to continue that way.”
Among the injured are Javier Morales, Álvaro Saborío and Nat Borchers, each of whom underwent offseason surgery. The availability of Borchers and Saborío for the March 10 season opener against LA Galaxy was always in doubt. Morales was expected to be back in action by now, but he had an early setback.
“Sabo and Borchers are both moving along very well, so I’ve been pleased with them,” explained Kreis. “Javier we had expected to be rolling down in preseason in Arizona, and instead his muscles weren’t ready for it.
“He trained really hard the first day. He looked great. Fantastic. It was nice to have him back out there for one day, but now he’s taken three steps backwards. So we’ll hopefully get him back moving forwards here in the next week or so.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Kyle Beckerman made some positive strides during the first segment of camp in Arizona, and even saw some time in the final scrimmage against D.C. United last Tuesday. However, his midfield teammate Will Johnson has not made improvement and is set to head to Germany for a sports hernia procedure that is expected to keep him out of action for three to four weeks.
Another area of concern has developed in the past couple of weeks as well. Real Salt Lake currently have two outside backs signed to the squad, and both picked up recent injuries.
“[Chris] Wingert and [Tony] Beltran didn’t come into the preseason injured,” said Kreis, “but picked up injuries on the first trip, so we’ve taken a couple of steps backwards with them. But now they are moving forward again, so that’s good.”
Currently RSL are searching for depth to shore up that area of concern. They have four players currently competing for a place – Terukazu Tanaka, Diogo de Almeida, Kasall Casal and Lance Laing – after having recently released a few other candidates.
“You come into a preseason and Tony and Chris, they win your fitness test and they show you everything you want out of our outside backs … and then they get injured,” lamented Kreis. “It kind of reminds you that these players tend to get injured. It’s the nature of the beast.
“So we have to have at least one very good answer for what happens when Tony Beltran’s injured in the middle of the season or Chris Wingert’s injured in the middle of the season. Ideally, we’d like to have two very good answers. So we’re still searching a little bit.”