The training table has been busy of late in the Real Salt Lake locker room, with key players going down to injuries in recent weeks to dwindle Head Coach Jeff Cassar’s available roster. Not surprisingly, those recent injury woes have been a key factor in a five match winless run that saw RSL drop from second to fourth in the Western Conference with just two matches to go in the regular season.
Now with a weekend off before the final two weeks of the regular season, Cassar and his staff will try to correct some of the on-field issues and while those aren’t irrelevant, General Manager Craig Waibel said the injuries that have limited players like Javier Morales, Joao Plata and Yura Movisisyan can’t be ignored in their impacts.
“We know injuries play a factor. There’s no doubt about that. But we are definitely trying to figure out the small things – the psychological things and physical attributes we need to take care of in the next three weeks in order to make sure we’re ready,” Waibel said on ESPN 700’s Bill Riley Show on Tuesday.
While all teams deal with injuries at different portions of the season, RSL hasn’t had a rash of injuries at one position group like this during the 2016 season.
Although different players have missed extended periods or been limited at different stages, the pileup in recent weeks has forced Cassar to alter lineup choices and, according to Waibel, has impacted training sessions as well.
“I would put the focus on the injuries and the abilities and limitations that we’ve run into. We’ve hit it at the wrong time. There’s never a good time, but in the last three or four games we’ve either had players out or playing with a mild injury or coming off of an injury,” Waibel said. “We just haven’t had that consistency that we had and created during the first half of the year and even through large parts of the middle part of the season. It’s impacted training sessions, it’s impacted the performances and clearly it’s impacted the results.”
RSL opened the season with a six-match unbeaten streak and has endured a six-match winless streak, posting a record of 0-2-4 from June 25-July 22. The resilience of the club has been evident in the ability to come from behind in matches, earning 22 points from a losing position throughout the year. It will need to be on display again in the final two matches against a pair of teams vying to secure playoff positions – at home against Sporting Kansas City on October 16 and in Seattle against the Sounders on October 23.
To hear the full interview with Waibel, click here.