Sandy • Third-string goalkeeper Jeff Attinella will get a real test this weekend, as he starts against a Sporting Kansas City side that leads the league in shots.
But for all the talk about Attinella, Real Salt Lake’s center back situation seems equally important.
With Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Carlos Salcedo all out with injury, the team is down to just a few options for Nat Borchers’ partner in the middle of the back line.
RSL traded a pair of draft picks earlier this week to D.C. United for Brandon McDonald.
"He’s a guy I’ve always kind of had my eye on," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "The staff has been watching him pretty closely the past two years. He’s had a little bit of a downtick in his career. Let’s be frank and honest, his form has dipped a little bit at D.C. That’s why they were willing to let him go. But we like to pull players in based on potential ... rather than where they are right now. He’s a guy we think in our setup, with some proper direction, he could be a big contributor for us."
Kreis said he believes McDonald could be ready to go right away. But RSL’s new defender, who has only trained twice now with RSL, mentioned a need to adjust to altitude and regain fitness he lost after being moved to the bench, so I don’t believe he’ll be in the starting lineup Saturday.
Chris Wingert played center back for 90 minutes in Tuesday’s reserve win over Vancouver, and could be used in the same spot again, with Lovel Palmer or Abdoulie Mansally playing outside.
But I still think Aaron Maund remains the best bet to start at home on Saturday.
Kreis has been very complimentary of the second-year man out of Notre Dame in recent weeks.
Maund has put a shaky Open Cup performance behind him after a solid showing in Toronto.
"Every day I come in looking to learn more and more," Maund said after training Friday. "I think it’s paying dividends. I’m just trying to progress and keep the level as high as I can."
Wingert also gave Maund a vote of confidence, calling his play in Toronto "incredible."
"He made at least two or three game-saving tackles and was all over the pitch winning balls," Wingert said. "He played great. If he’s in the lineup, we’re more than confident we can win with him."
Maund also played in Tuesday’s reserve match, making a game-saving tackle at the death to preserve a 3-2 victory over Vancouver.
"I think he’s a player that carries a lot of confidence into the match tomorrow," Kreis said. "If we’re prepared to start him, I think he’s prepared to play."
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