SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert is anxious. He wants to get back on the field for a Major League Soccer game.
After missing the last four months with a broken bone in his foot, that time is quickly approaching. It may even be Saturday when RSL travel to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS2 in Canada, watch on MLS Live in US).
"[I'm] very ready," Wingert told reporters on Friday. "It feels like it has been forever."
Wingert played 20 minutes in an exhibition match against BYU on April 1, and he logged 70 minutes in a Reserve League match at Colorado last weekend. He has been a full participant in training this week, and he made a pretty good impression while doing so.
"He's been pretty good," RSL coach Jason Kreis said following training Friday. "His veteran leadership out there, his communication, you can see it's so important and vital. The players around him really appreciate it and do better with him there. [We're] eager for him to get back, but not sure it will be this weekend."
Wingert said that his foot has been doing fine and is no longer the issue on whether he is ready to return.
"Really, to be honest, I haven't been feeling any pain," he said. "It took an extra week to kind of get my muscles back just because I'm not used to everything that goes into soccer. My lungs feel somewhat all right, but your legs need to get used to striking the ball and all the lateral movement. My muscles were a little tight after playing in the reserve match last week, but I'm feeling pretty good and just looking forward to hopefully helping the team."
Even if he is ready physically and mentally, Wingert acknowledged that doesn't necessarily mean he will automatically be back in the starting lineup.
"Obviously, I want to be on the field, but that is up to the coaches to decide," Wingert said. "I think the other guys, whoever has been out there, have done an outstanding job. I don't know if I deserve to be out there. That's not up to me. I just have to do my best and when I'm called upon, try to help the team and play the best I can."
So is Wingert's best good enough to get him back in the lineup? He's not sure, but he does feel he will continue to get better.
"It's certainly not 100 percent considering besides the last couple weeks I hadn't played in four months," he said. "But I still feel pretty good out there and my attitude is real good because I am just excited to be out on the field, that always helps.
"Just in the next few weeks, I'll get sharper and closer to 100 percent. I'm elated to just be part of the mix again and playing soccer."