LEHI, Utah – Real Salt Lake are dealing with something they haven't had much experience with so far this season: injuries.
Aside from a few ailments early on and one key extended injury to Kyle Beckerman’s ankle, for the most part, head coach Jason Kreis has been able to field his best XI throughout much of the season.
However, the team now needs to fill in some gaps for Saturday's Western Conference duel in Seattle.
Fabian Espíndola was subbed out of the recent victory over New York after scoring the game's only goal and will not travel to Seattle because of a strained hamstring.
Ordinarily his replacement would be an easy decision as Robbie Findley and Alvaro Saborio have often been in the starting lineup this season.
But Saborío is also a question mark. The Costa Rican did not play for his national team over the weekend against Jamaica due to some swelling in his knee. He did practice today, however, and is expected to be available.
Should he be a no-go, Pablo Campos, who hasn’t seen much time on the pitch this season, or youngster Nelson Gonzalez, who filled in for Espíndola in the later stages of the New York match, are both viable options as the second forward next to Findley.
In addition to the two injured forwards, midfielder Ned Grabavoy tweaked his knee against New York. Usually that would not be a problem as Andy Williams and Will Johnson would be available as outside midfielders with Beckerman taking a holding role.
However, Johnson played 90 minutes for the Canadian National Team over the weekend and according to Kreis is in “no consideration for the starting roster.”
Perhaps the most vital missing component for Thursday's will be Jamison Olave, who will be serving a suspension for yellow-card accumulations.
Olave’s unique combination of size, strength and speed is near impossible for RSL to replace, especially given the two backup candidates are third-year pro Rauwshan McKenzie and rookie Chris Schuler, neither of whom has much experience on the pitch.
Another option would be to slide Robbie Russell in centrally and have Tony Beltran play at right back.