SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert appeared in his first game of 2013 on Monday night, coming on in the 60th minute of the Claret-and-Cobalt’s 1-0 exhibition win over BYU at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Wingert missed the first month of the season while recovering from a broken right metatarsal suffered in December. Doctors inserted five screws and a plate into the 30-year-old left back’s right foot shortly after he was injured.
Wingert didn’t initially expect to play against BYU, but felt so good after participating in his first two full training sessions of the year on Friday and Saturday that he was able to give it a go on Monday night. He said after the game that he was thrilled to get back on the field, even if he didn’t play as well as he would’ve liked.
“It felt great to be out there,” Wingert said. “I didn’t feel too sharp, a little slow and sluggish, but I think maybe that’s to be expected. Sometimes your mind thinks you can do some things and your body can’t keep up, and I think that happened a few times with me out there. But the foot feels good and I just need to keep pushing forward and hopefully start to get a little sharper in the next week or two.”
Don’t expect to see Wingert in action in RSL’s regular season match at Rocky Mountain Cup Presented by Mark Miller Subaru rivals the Colorado Rapids this Saturday. He still has a ways to go to get back to full match fitness and will likely play in one or two Reserve League matches – the Claret-and-Cobalt Reserves play at Colorado on Saturday and at Vancouver on April 14 – before appearing for the first-team.
“I would love to be able to play in a couple of weeks, but I’m not going to be ready to start this coming weekend,” Wingert said. “But after that I think it’s just a matter of being sharp enough and fit enough to prove to the coaches that I deserve to be back in the lineup.”
Wingert – who was second on RSL with 31 MLS appearances in 2012 – noted on Monday that getting back into the lineup will be no easy task with outside backs Tony Beltran, Abdoulie Mansally and Lovel Palmer playing well.
“The guys are playing great and nobody owes me anything, I don’t deserve to be back on the field unless I’m the best guy for the job,” he said.
“I absolutely need to win a spot back…. Tony is, for me, one of the best guys in the league, Abdoulie’s been awesome and Lovel’s been great when he’s stepped in, so it’s not going to be easy. But I’m happy about that; I want the team to do well and I think those guys have done a great job.”