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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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RSL wants to focus on RSL, Plata called up, injury updates

Sandy • Jeff Cassar gathered his group prior to training at America First Field on Monday. Real Salt Lake’s coach told his players that the 2-1 loss at FC Dallas on Friday falls on his shoulders. When forward Blas Perez was sent off in the 45th minute, things were breaking RSL’s way. But conceding a goal off a set piece early in the second half turned into the club chasing for an equalizer rather than settling to find a rhythm and pull one back against a team down a man.

"It’s a little on me," Cassar said. "I was worrying about what [FC Dallas] could do to us and I really needed to concentrate on what we needed to do to them. Our posture was a little bit different than typical. I thought we did a good job for the first 45 minutes.

"Once [Dallas] scored the goal on the set play, we started chasing the game a little bit and that falls on me. I told the guys that we’re going to be aware of what San Jose can do to us [Saturday], but really concentrate on our game."

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando echoed his coach when discussing the loss to 10-man Dallas and looking ahead to playing against downtrodden San Jose Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

"We’re going in there to get a result," he said. "This is a team that regardless of where they’re at in the standings are going to work their butt off and tackle and put the effort on the field. They also have some good players and [Chris] Wondolowski can score at any given moment, so we’ve got to be organized and play a lot more mature of a game this weekend to get a result. [We must reman] focused on ourselves this week and not so much the opponent and when we do that, we seem play better."

Tied with FC Dallas for second place in the Western Conference at 42 points, RSL isn’t overlooking the struggling Quakes, who have conceded 12 goals in their last four league matches.

"We were laughing on the way in saying that’s the way things go, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to play poorly this weekend," defender Chris Wingert said. "They’re extremely dangerous, especially at their place. And they’re capable of scoring a lot of goals. We know how prolific their attack is. We can’t get too caught up in what’s been going on with them the past few weeks. We’re going to worry about ourselves and try to minimize their guys and let the result take care of itself."

***

Plata gets the call • His exceptional 2014 campaign has Joao Plata back in the international fold. The 22-year-old striker was called into Ecuador’s 22-man roster for upcoming friendlies in the United States against Bolivia and Brazil. Having notched 11 goals in 18 MLS matches so far this season, Plata’s rise caught the attention of the Ecuadorian national team staff. In preparing for the 2015 Copa America in Chile, Ecuador will face Bolivia on Sept. 5 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami and Brazil at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sept. 9.

Plata has made just one previous appearance for Ecuador in his June 1, 2011, debut in a friendly played at BMO Field in Toronto. While away with his national team, Plata is expected to miss one RSL match, but it’s a big one: At home against FC Dallas on Sept. 6.

***

Morales and Saborio • Will Javier Morales miss his third-straight game this weekend at San Jose? Cassar said the 34-year-old midfielder is moving in the right direction while working his way back from a hip injury sustained on Aug. 9 in a 3-0 win against D.C. United. Morales trained fully Monday.

"I believe nothing aggravated him today," Cassar said. "I think we got him out at the right time and it’s just progressing him at the pace [until] he’s ready."

As for San Jose?

"I don’t know," Cassar said. "I think if he keeps progressing, yes. I would say we’ll probably have a really good idea Wednesday after practice."

Forward Alvaro Saborio went through technical drills with the team Monday for the first time since breaking his foot in late May. RSL’s all-time leading scorer, 32, is working relentlessly to come back and play in his first club match since May 11.

"I think he’s way ahead of schedule," Cassar said. "I don’t know when that schedule really starts to jump on the field with us. I think there’s a healing process to be taken place, but he’s hungry. He’s hungry and now we have to pull the reins back on him and make sure we’re being smart.

"We’ll definitely have to temper [his schedule], but as long as the lines of communication are open between him and the training staff and we’re being smart and making sure we don’t have any setbacks — that’s the key right now is not having any setbacks."

***

Is Saturday’s match at San Jose a must-win? When does RSL enter must-win territory with nine games remaining? You tell me.

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani



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