SANDY — Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio has officially been ruled out for Game 1 of the Western Conference final against Portland on Sunday.
Saborio didn’t train with the team on Saturday after picking up a hip flexor injury in extra time of Thursday’s series-clinching victory over Los Angeles, and coach Jason Kreis confirmed his leading scorer won’t even dress.
The club is hopeful he’ll be ready for Game 2, at Portland on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Everyone else of note should be available, as Kreis confirmed that Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales and Sebastian Velasquez should all be available for selection.
Playing without Saborio is nothing new for Real Salt Lake. In fact, the Costa Rican international missed more games (18) than he played in (16) this season, yet still managed to score 12 goals.
Joao Plata and Devon Sandoval are the two most likely candidates to start in place of Saborio.
SELLING BRISKLY: Ticket sales have been great so far for Real Salt Lake in preparation for its first Sunday home game in franchise history.
A team spokesperson confirmed that 12,000 tickets for Game 1 on Sunday at 7 p.m. against Portland had been sold as of Saturday morning.
Rio Tinto Stadium capacity is 20,238, and Kreis said he’s optimistic a large crowd will be on hand.
“I’m hopeful that we’re going to have a sell-out, I believe the fans here will support us regardless of what day it is, and we all know that means something to us,” said Kreis.
UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE: Grabavoy watched last Thursday’s game from the press box, and he definitely felt the same wave of emotion the fans did when Javier Morales’ free-kick goal was waived off, or when RSL hit the post and crossbar in succession four minutes apart.
Shades of Monterrey, New York and D.C. United certainly were creeping in his mind.
“We’ve been part of so many big games here. We hit two posts, they call that goal back, and it’s difficult to not sit up there and think is this happening again, where we’re just getting some bad luck and not being able to tuck the ball away,” Grabavoy said. “But to fight through it, especially not having success in the past, is big for this group going forward. I think we feel relaxed and ready to go.”