SANDY, Utah — When Javier Morales took the field for the final 28 minutes of Real Salt Lake's match against the Seattle Sounders last Saturday, it was his first action of the young season. Recovering from surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee, the plan was for Morales to go that final 30 or so minutes, then play against BYU in an exhibition match with the reserves on Monday.
More for precaution than anything, however, Morales sat out of the exhibition match, a rough-and-tumble 1-0 win. He returned to training on Wednesday, though for the majority of the time as a neutral.
"There was a little swelling, so I said maybe I give my knee one more day of rest," Morales told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday as to why he missed the friendly. "I gave her one more day to get ready to train and get ready for this weekend."
RSL faces the Colorado Rapids Saturday for the second leg of the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cup. While Morales will almost certainly be available, it would be surprising if he gets the start.
"I'm close, but I'm not all the way there yet," said Morales. "I think I need maybe one or two more weeks. Maybe I'll think different tomorrow, but I think I need just a little more time. I'm not quite ready, but I'm close."
When Morales is ready for a start and give a 90-minute effort, one of Luis Gil, Ned Grabavoy or Sebastian Velasquez will be the odd man out. With Velasquez being the most inexperienced of the group, he is also the most likely to end up watching from the sideline.
"I'll still work hard," Velasquez told MLSsoccer.com after training. "I'm actually excited to have him back. When he's on the field, you can tell that football is a lot easier for all of us. He's a great playmaker, a great player. ... If it's me that happens to go to the bench, [I have] no problem with that. I still need to work hard at practice and then take every minute that I can."
While no player wishes to see his playing time cut, Velasquez understands it is the nature of the business.
"That is just the way it is," he said. "We are all fighting for positions, all fighting for minutes, but we're a team, a family. We are going to support each other both on the field and off the field."