SANDY — Devon Sandoval made his season debut last Saturday for Real Salt Lake, coming on for Olmes Garcia in the 84th minute.
Sandoval’s been slowly recovering from the foot injury that sidelined him during MLS Cup last December, and he said it was good to get back on the field after being unavailable for the first three games of the season.
“It feels good. Last week was the first time training, last Wednesday, and I was able to play the rest of the week and get into the game, so I was happy how the week went,” said Sandoval. “It was a weight off my shoulders for sure. I was just happy we won and happy I could play.”
RSL coach Jeff Cassar said Sandoval’s presence could’ve certainly helped the club in a few games this season, particularly at San Jose as it tried to protect a two-goal halftime lead.
With Sandoval nearing full strength, Cassar’s options at striker this weekend at Kansas City get a boost. Joao Plata, however, is probably a week away from getting back to the training field after injuring his hamstring against Los Angeles two weeks ago.
WINGERT ON THE MEND: The injury bug struck again for Real Salt Lake last weekend with Chris Wingert leaving the match in the second half with a groin injury.
Wingert didn’t train with the team Tuesday, and after practice Cassar said Wingert’s status doesn’t look good for the weekend.
“To be honest I’m not sure how long he’s going to be out, but it’s not looking good for this weekend,” said Cassar.
Abdoulie Mansally and Rich Balchan will battle it out this week in training for the starting spot, and Cassar said they both looked sharp Tuesday.
VELASQUEZ BACK ON THE FIELD: Sebastian Velasquez was back on the training field for the first time since injuring his hamstring the week of the season opener, and the third-year midfielder said he felt great afterward
“I was happy to be back. It’s always good to get back into training and hopefully I can just continue progressing from here,” said Velasquez.
Velasquez trained as a neutral player for most of the practice, but Cassar said he looked particularly sharp throughout.
BELTRAN GETS THE NOD: While Real Salt Lake’s players trained in cold and windy conditions in Sandy on Tuesday, four of their teammates were enjoying the warmth in Phoenix preparing for the U.S. national team’s friendly with Mexico on Wednesday.
Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Luis Gil were among the original 22 players called into the U.S. camp early last week, while Tony Beltran was a late injury replacement.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann invited Beltran to camp after Saturday’s match with Toronto FC to replace injured Seattle midfielder/defender Brad Evans.
“Really pleased for him. Tony is someone who comes to work every single day. I thought he was especially good in that (Toronto) game. His passing out of the back into the midfield, into the forwards, was spot on. Looks like Jurgen saw that too,” said Cassar.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.