Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
SANDY — Real Salt Lake is using the acquisition of Justin Braun last week as an opportunity to try and help Paulo Jr. regain his confidence.
With five strikers now on the roster, RSL felt comfortable loaning Paulo Jr. to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the second-division NASL on a short-term basis.
Paulo Jr. spent a year and a half with Fort Lauderdale — formerly Miami FC — prior to joining RSL on a long-term loan in September of 2010.
"The objective is to get him down there and get him into some regular minutes here in the next two matches for them. Hopefully he gets down there and gets into a rhythm, gets into a little bit of a flow and gets some confidence and scores some goals, and he can bring that back to help us," said coach Jason Kreis.
A lack of confidence has been hurting the young Brazilian striker lately.
Paulo Jr. has one goal and one assist in 14 games this year, but that loan goal came on a penalty kick back on April 4 against Montreal.
After starting the first five matches of the season while Alvaro Saborio worked his way back to 90-minute fitness, Paulo Jr. has started just three of the next 16 matches. In conjunction with inconsistent minutes in the sporadic Reserve League, Kreis said the striker is in a rut.
A short-term loan to familiar surroundings may help him rediscover that rhythm. Kreis said playing against less physical defenders should help as well.
Fort Lauderdale (6-6-6) beat Minnesota Stars FC 2-1 on the road Wednesday night and travels to San Antonio on Saturday.
Paulo Jr. is very familiar with the Strikers' first opponent, it's the same Minnesota team that knocked Real Salt Lake out of the U.S. Open Cup earlier this summer.
INJURY UPDATE: Defenders Nat Borchers and Tony Beltran, neither of whom played in last weekend's loss at San Jose, both trained fully without limitations on Wednesday and are a good bet to return to the starting lineup this weekend against visiting Colorado.
Fabian Espindola though is a concern.
He was kicked in the calf by Jamison Olave early in Wednesday's training session, and sat out the rest of the practice with ice on his calf.
Kreis said Espindola's calf has repeatedly been kicked over the past couple of weeks, and he's concerned about his status going forward.
MOVING ON: Real Salt Lake's players and coaches all echoed the same thought when asked about last weekend's 5-0 drubbing at San Jose, they just want to move past it.
It's understandable why.
The 5-0 loss — with four goals being conceded after Kyle Beckerman's red card — was the second-worst loss in franchise history. The blowout was second only to a 6-0 loss at New York back in August of 2006, a match in which Jack Stewart was red-carded in the eighth minute.
RSL managed to keep the game level at 0-0 until halftime, but the floodgates opened after that in what was Bruce Arena's first victory as the Red Bulls' coach.
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