Real Salt Lake bothered by injuries for playoff at Seattle
Of course, Real Salt Lake could not enjoy the success of a playoff victory Saturday without another appearance by the same bugaboo that has plagued the team all season.
That would be injuries.
Nearly forgotten in the din of each succeeding goal in RSL's 3-0 pounding of the Seattle Sounders were the images of defenders Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers, limping off the Rio Tinto Stadium field to the bench.
Chris Schuler replaced Olave in the 32nd minute, while Luis Gil took over for Borchers in the 84th minute. The status of both players is questionable, though both are on the travel squad to Seattle for Wednesday's second leg of the MLS Western Conference semifinals.
Kickoff is 8 p.m. MDT on ESPN2.
"It's tough, those are two huge players for us," RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "If they're in there, we know how well we can play. If not, we have to have our seconds in the game and do the job."
Schuler, the tallest RSL player at 6-foot-4, did not hurt the team.
However, there is the anticipation of Seattle throwing numbers forward aggressively to erase a three-goal hole. RSL's defense will be tested early and often.
Borchers declared, after a few days of rehab and rest, that he was feeling better. His MRI revealed a strained quadriceps (thigh) muscle instead of a feared damaged meniscus. Olave also suffered a quad strain.
Borchers dismissed the notion of resting for the conference finals.
"You can't look forward to anything," he said. "This is the playoffs. If we go to Seattle and have a stinker, we're not going to move on any farther.
"I'd take a 50 percent Jamison Olave over a 100 percent defender in this league any day of the week. It's just going to be a game-time decision."
Alvaro Saborio scored RSL's first goal Saturday. It came late in the first half and was the product of a creative run by midfielder Javier Morales, who passed to defender Chris Wingert.
Wingert shot from an extreme angle and Saborio, who also scored the game's second goal on a brilliant back-heel shot, easily tapped the ball into the net from about a foot outside the goal line. The replay, however, showed that Wingert's shot was going in.
Afterward, there was talk about Saborio owing Wingert a steak or something.
"I'm sure once Chris saw the replay, he had some words for Sabo," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said playfully. "But Chris is the kind of guy who wants to get Sabo on track, heating up for the playoffs."
Despite not having scored this season, Wingert was taking the high road. "It wasn't taken away from me," he said. "It is on the scoreboard. We're up 1-0 at that point, which was a huge boost. I wasn't worried about it."
Wednesday • New York 2, FC Dallas 0
Thursday • Colorado 1, Columbus 0
Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday • Real Salt Lake 3, Seattle 0
Wednesday • Real Salt Lake at Seattle, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Los Angeles vs. New York
Sunday • Los Angeles 1, New York 0
Thursday • New York at Los Angeles, 9 p.m.
Sporting K.C. vs. Colorado
Sunday • Sporting Kansas City 2, Colorado 0
Wednesday • Colorado at Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m.
Houston vs. Philadelphia
Sunday • Houston 2, Philadelphia 1
Thursday • Philadelphia at Houston, 6:30 p.m.
Conference championships • Sunday, Nov. 6, TBD
MLS Cup championship • Sunday, Nov. 20, at Carson, Calif., 7 p.m.