Goalkeeper Nick Rimando was subbed out an hour into the game with a right leg injury. He was followed to the bench shortly thereafter by defender Chris Wingert, who departed in the 71st minute after taking a blow to the head.
There were no updates on either Wingert or Rimando postgame, but Wingert had a rough few minutes in the second half.
“I think he took a knock to the head and I believe he got hit in the eye for the second one,” said RSL head coach Mike Petke.
Petke was already planning on subbing Wingert before the injury, in order to insert an extra attacker as RSL chased an equalizer.
Rimando and Wingert lengthen further the long list of defenders out for RSL. Last season’s starting centerback tandem of Justen Glad and Aaron Maund haven’t played together this year due to injury. Right back Tony Beltran has been out since March and center back David Horst underwent surgery in early April that will likely keep him out 6-8 weeks total.
After Saturday’s game, Petke said it’s business as usual for RSL – regardless of whether or not more than half their defenders are ready for practice on Tuesday.
“My plan is to continue with the fourth week of training and trying to figure out what we need to do to be successful,” Petke said.
Recovering from a 3-1 loss in which all three goals started with a defensive mistake would be easier if there were more options to put on the field. Thankfully for RSL, that depth is starting to appear in the attacking third.
Forward Joao Plata returned from injury on Saturday and played the full 90 minutes against Atlanta. It was just his fourth game of the season and his first 90-minute performance since the opener.
“I thought it was streaky,” Petke said, of Plata’s performance. “There were some good things he did. He looked a little tired. He looked a step behind. He went 90 minutes which was important. It’s going to be good for his confidence and for his fitness.”
Confidence and fitness may just be the key for Real Salt Lake over the next month, but Petke’s secondary concern may be what he’ll do when he does have everyone back. His left and right wingers are already filling up with quality options that are ready for playing time.
“We have someone like Joao, Bofo [Saucedo] and [Brooks] Lennon, that’s three players for two positions,” he said. “When they’re all 100 percent and fit it’s going to be tough decisions because they’re all talented.”
Add to that list Jordan Allen – who played 44 minutes in a rehab assignment for Real Monarchs in USL on Saturday – and there are four players for two spots. Midfielder Sunday Stephen also suited up for the Monarchs on Saturday and could return to provide more depth in the midfield for RSL ahead of Saturday’s match at Sporting Kansas City (8:30pm ET | MLS LIVE).