SANDY, Utah — It was pretty close to the exact scenario Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis had hoped to avoid. Star striker Álvaro Saborío left for international duty with Costa Rica in good health, and came back a week later carrying yet another knock in a season full of them.
The outspoken RSL coach has stated many times how he feels it is a big honor for his players to be selected, but that he would prefer if they don't set foot on the pitch to risk fatigue or injury.
This is why.
"It’s a calf strain, but we believe it is the other leg," said Kreis of Saborío, who missed a pair of games last month with a calf injury to his right leg — he also missed time with a strained quadriceps earlier.
"It has been a little bit of an odd year for Sabo because he's had so many muscle injuries. We know that he has historically, he has had problems in his knee, but really his knee has gotten along very nicely this year. It is the muscles. It is interesting, but in the minutes he has contributed he has been pretty dynamic. He's been pretty spot-on. We are pleased with what we can get and we'll just try to get him out there as quickly as possible."
With perhaps their biggest regular-season contest of the year coming up Friday at Seattle, Saborío's status remains up in the air.
"I don't know," said Kreis on whether the star striker would be available against Seattle on Friday (10 pm ET, NBCSN). "I haven't heard from the doctors yet. I think they are seeing him today because he didn't get in until late last night. We should have a much better answer on that by the end of today."
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While Kreis hasn't held back on his feelings about hoping his guys don't play in international or all-star games, he still understands why a player like Saborío wants to and needs to go play for his country, especially in this instance.
"I think that you can have those type of conversations and thinking when they are not a World Cup qualifiers, but when it is a World Cup qualifier it is just too important an occasion," said Kreis on whether a player would ever elect to stay with his club rather than go play for his country. "[Saborío] is a leader on that team and has worn the captain's armband on several occasions.
"I think he wants to represent his country in the right way and represent that team in the right way and lead through actions. And that is to show up and give his best for his country every single time he is called upon."