TORONTO — Just a week after getting benched for his poor play at Chivas USA, Carey Talley was back on the pitch for Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Nate Sturgis, the player who replaced Talley in the lineup last week, went down in the 25th minute with a left hamstring strain. The 20-year-old Sturgis tried to walk it off, but it became obvious quickly he couldn't return, and Talley started warming up.

Talley, who was third on RSL last year with 25 starts, played well in his return to the pitch.

"I thought Carey came in and did a commendable job, but what it is is a little bit of a wasted sub," said Real coach Jason Kreis. "We would've liked to be able to make three attacking subs in that game."

Sturgis left the stadium on crutches as a precaution and wasn't sure about his time frame for a return, even though two to four weeks seems like a realistic guess. The holding midfielder said his hamstring had been tight in training all the week, and he ultimately injured it on an innocent lunge for the ball at midfield.

Sturgis missed nine games last year with a bizarre calf strain which originally team trainers believed to be just a bruise.

ROAD WOES: With its second straight road loss in the opening month of the MLS season, and second in two visits to Canada, RSL's all-time road record now stands at 6-33-10. Four of those six road wins were at Western Conference foes, twice in Colorado and twice at the L.A. Galaxy.

Its only two road wins against Eastern teams came at New England and Columbus. That doesn't bode well for RSL next weekend, as it makes a visit to D.C. United.

A BRIEF APPEARANCE: Former Real Salt Lake striker Jeff Cunningham made a very brief appearance for Toronto FC on Saturday, subbing in for Danny Dichio in the 90th minute. He nearly made it a memorable appearance just seconds after stepping onto the pitch, but RSL defender Nat Borchers toe-poked the ball away just before Cunningham was about to unleash a shot. just inside the penalty area.

Cunningham scored the game-winning goal at the L.A. Galaxy last week.

LATE SCRATCH: Fabian Espindola took it easy with his strained hamstring all week in hopes of making his second straight start on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Argentine striker he failed a fitness test during Friday's training session in Toronto and the coaching staff opted to go with Robbie Findley instead.

In last year's 0-0 draw at Toronto, Espindola was red-carded in the 35th minute of a game in which RSL keeper Nick Rimando made 12 saves.


E-mail: [email protected]