Sandy • Javier Morales’ return to the field two weeks ago brought fans at Rio Tinto Stadium to their feet.
It didn’t take long for Morales to find himself on the ground.
Defenses have long looked to slow Real Salt Lake’s creative midfielder with hard tackles and fouls. And Morales says he won’t get reprieve as he works his way back from a preseason injury.
“I know that it’s going to be like that,” Morales said Tuesday. “It’s going to happen, but I have to be strong and ready for those types of things.”
Morales has seen time on the field in RSL’s last two games, most recently playing the entire second half in a 1-0 loss to Colorado.
Morales, who suffered a horrific ankle injury in May 2011, tore his meniscus early in RSL’s preseason training.
“That was tough for me,” he said. “More hard than my ankle because I was ready for this preseason, for this season. And that happened in the first week. It was tough.”
RSL coach Jason Kreis likes Morales’ progress as he returns to form, but remains frustrated by the tackles he endures on the field.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said, “because the league continues to say they want creative soccer, continues to say that their philosophy is about attacking-minded, creative soccer, but they do not continue to do enough to protect those players.”
On the road again
When RSL takes on Vancouver this weekend, it will be the fifth road trip in the season’s first seven matches — a stretch Kreis called “the most difficult that I can remember” to start a year.
“It’s been difficult, no doubt about it,” he said. “But I don’t want to make that an excuse.”
Defender Tony Beltran echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“Life is difficult when you’re on the road,” he said. “But still the fact is this is our job. Whether it’s home or away, we need to get results. We need to get points.”
Joao Plata, who missed last week’s match in Colorado with a hamstring injury, trained fully on Tuesday. Kreis said he expected the speedster to be available Saturday.
RSL at Vancouver
O Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV • Ch. 2