SANDY — There was one notable player missing from last weekend’s Western Conference final celebration in Portland — Chris Wingert.
Doctors advised the Real Salt Lake defender that if he wanted to increase his odds of playing in MLS Cup two weeks later, he needed to remain in Utah and do whatever he could to heal his broken rib.
Watching his teammates celebrate on TV after the Leg 2 victory over the Timbers was certainly frustrating, but Wingert knew it was in his best interest.
Now, Wingert said, it’s all about what’s in the best interest of the club.
Wingert trained without restrictions Wednesday, and afterward said he felt great. With another 10 days to heal before MLS Cup in Kansas City on Dec. 7, Wingert’s confident he’ll be match fit, but also knows that doesn’t guarantee he’ll play.
“Hopefully I’m healthy enough to at least make it a tough decision on (coach) Jason (Kreis) and the staff and possibly be able to help the team, and if not, of course we’d much rather play someone else,” said Wingert.
“I want to win as much as everybody else, and if that means somebody else should be playing then so be it.”
Lovel Palmer and Abdoulie Mansally have filled in admirably for Wingert over the past two matches and Wingert has complete confidence in them getting the job done again if he can’t play.
Wingert broke his rib early in the first half on Nov. 11 in Game 1 against Portland. He ended up spending a couple of days in the hospital because of bleeding in his lung. The rib hasn’t completely healed yet and there’s obvious concern from the doctors that it could break again, which means Wingert’s availability in MLS Cup will likely all come down to pain threshold, according to Kreis.
Wingert was on the field during both of RSL’s finals disappointments against Monterrey and D.C. United over the past three years, and you can bet he’s anxious to make the third time a charm against Kansas City if his rib cooperates.
SABORIO HEALING UP: Just like Wingert, RSL leading scorer Alvaro Saborio is slowly working his way back into MLS Cup lineup consideration.
After missing both playoff matches against Portland because of a hip flexor injury, Saborio trained with the team for about half of Wednesday’s session and Kreis seemed encouraged about his availability next weekend.
“Moving forward, we think it’s very likely he’ll be available for the match,” said Saborio.
MLS CUP TICKET GATE: Hundreds of Real Salt Lake fans had their MLS Cup tickets voided Tuesday night because MLS said the tickets were purchased with a Ticketmaster presale code that wasn’t valid yet.
The code was leaked in the comments section of a Kansas City Star article on Tuesday afternoon, and it went viral on social media, with RSL fans snatching up nearly 1,000 tickets before the access code became invalid and all tickets already purchase were voided.
The league released the following statement Wednesday afternoon explaining the situation.
“Earlier this week, a limited number of RSL fans gained access to a secure link that had been established solely for Sporting Kansas City season ticket members to purchase MLS Cup tickets. Because RSL fans were not authorized to use this link the purchase orders were not fulfilled.”
Sporting Park holds roughing 20,000 people, with RSL allotted 1,000 tickets by MLS. Kansas City won the right to host MLS Cup because it had a better regular-season record than Real Salt Lake.