LEHI, Utah — The talk ahead of Real Salt Lake's crucial second leg of the Western Conference semfinals (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, FSC) is all about Javier Morales' red-card suspension. But the defending champs may be at an even bigger disadvantage with another absence.
Alvaro Saborio, RSL’s leading scorer, has had reoccurring issues with his right knee for the past several weeks and has been listed in the injury report with “knee internal derangement.” The Costa Rican came out of RSL’s first-leg 2-1 loss to FC Dallas last weekend in the 68th minute.
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“Right before we brought him out, he went down and was in some obvious pain,” Kreis said of Saborío. “It was always going to be some consideration of just how long he could last.”
Saborío leads the team with 12 goals, one more than his typical strike partners Robbie Findley and Fabian Espindola combined.
“He didn’t train [Tuesday],” Kreis said of the Costa Rican star. “We’re being very protective of him. We’ll try to do our best so that he’s ready for the weekend.”
Although Saborío wasn’t on the training field, he was getting some work in on the stationary bike and going through some treatments with the trainers. Kreis noted that it’s about more than whether the striker can physically make it out on the field.
“I think it has to be a serious concern as to whether or not he can be effective,” said Kreis.
If Saborío is unable to start on Saturday, the players up top would likely be Espíndola and Findley.
Espíndola has six goals on the season, and scored the lone RSL goal in Dallas, while Findley, who has five tallies to his name, hasn’t found the back of the net since Aug. 7. Seldom-used Pablo Campos and his Brazilian counterpart, Paulo Jr., are other options for Kreis.
Paulo Jr. returned to practice on Wednesday after being out last week with a groin strain.
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