SANDY — Javier Morales and Chris Wingert, Real Salt Lake's two biggest injury concerns heading into its two-week break, both should be nearly 100 percent and available for selection for this Saturday's home match against FC Dallas.
The big question is will the two even play?
Following this weekend's match with Dallas, RSL's next MLS match isn't until June 16 when it hosts Chivas USA. It does, however, have a U.S. Open Cup third-round match next Tuesday against lower-division Minnesota, and then a likely quarterfinal match again on June 6.
With the potential for even more recovery time in the coming weeks, Wingert knows the coaches may take a conservative approach with the starting lineup this weekend.
"We don't know who's going to play yet, but I think we're going to error on the side of caution," said Wingert. "We want to make sure we're not rushing it and re-injuring it and starting the process all over."
Of the two, Wingert is much more likely to start. Prior to the hamstring strain picked up in Seattle, Wingert had started 11 of RSL's 12 matches this year.
Morales' status from week to week has been much more of a crap shoot because of a variety of injuries. He's started just six of 13 matches, and appeared in four others as a substitute. On two occasions he didn't even last until the final whistle, injuring himself again.
RSL coach Jason Kreis has said on numerous occasions he believes much of Morales' troubles have been the result of an abbreviated preseason while he recovered from offseason surgery. Without a league match last weekend, and without another for nearly three weeks, if RSL holds Morales out against Dallas the star midfielder could go nearly five weeks without playing a competitive match.
That's nearly the length of the preseason, which might be what Morales' 32-year-old body needs.
SLIPPING TO SECOND: Following its 1-0 victory at Seattle nearly two weeks ago, Real Salt Lake went into its off weekend with a four-point cushion over both Seattle and San Jose atop the Western Conference standings.
Without playing a match though, RSL suddenly finds itself in second place.
San Jose has played three times since Real Salt Lake's last game, and a 1-0-2 record during that span has vaulted with the Earthquakes into first-place in the West with 27 points, with RSL right behind with 26. Both teams have now played the same amount of matches at 13. Seattle sits in third with 23 points, but has played one fewer match.
"San Jose has done really, really well on the road," said RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy,
San Jose picked up a 3-2 win at Los Angeles on Wednesday night, improving its league-best road record to 4-1-1.
With 21 matches remaining in the regular season, Grabavoy said it's way too early to pay attention to the standings.
"We're not chasing anybody, we're not scared of someone coming up behind us in the tables. It's strictly week to week and we try and collect as many points and try and get better throughout the season," he said.1 comment on this story
SCHULER SHUTTING IT DOWN: RSL defender Chris Schuler is expected to miss the next month because of worries about a stress fracture developing in his left foot.
Schuler was carrying a slight foot injury into last week's match with Seattle, which he didn't start. When Chris Wingert was forced to leave the match in the 20th minute with a hamstring injury, Schuler was called upon to play the final 70 minutes.
The pain and discomfort persisted despite last week's rest and an MRI revealed a "potential development" of a stress fracture according to a team spokesperson.