Sandy • Could an already thin Real Salt Lake back line get any slimmer?
With injuries keeping a trio of center backs out of action, an international call-up taking away Tony Beltran, and a suspension eliminating left back Chris Wingert from playing Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, RSL coach Jason Kreis is looking at emergency options on the back line.
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"You look at the lineup sheet for this weekend and you think to yourself, ‘What’s going to happen if we have an injury?’ " the coach said.
The MLS Disciplinary Committee announced Tuesday it would suspend Wingert for an additional game for his head-to-head collision with Kansas City’s Kei Kamara. If the U.S. team advances past Wednesday’s Gold Cup semifinal, that means both Wingert and Beltran will miss an Aug. 3 match in Colorado.
"We’ve played a couple of players now in that outside back position in reserve games or they’ve certainly trained there enough times that we feel OK going with somebody in emergency duty," Kreis said. "And you see it done all over the world. You see midfielders have to slot back into an outside back position for a game here or a game there and typically they can handle it. I’m not hitting panic stations yet, but I’m getting a little nervous, sure."
RSL has moved Ned Grabavoy back in an emergency situation once this year. Midfielders Cole Grossman and Enzo Martinez, along with newly acquired center back Brandon McDonald could also be possibilities if needed.
The Disciplinary Committee has decided not to fine Kreis for his post-game remarks about the refereeing in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Kreis announced the decision Tuesday on the team’s radio station, ESPN700. Kreis took exception with the four cards handed out to his team by referee Matthew Foerster, and a decision to allow the game to go into the 98th minute.
"The level of consistency was as low as I’ve ever seen from any referee in MLS," Kreis said Saturday. "I don’t want to belabor the point about him being poor. He is going to be poor. It’s the fourteenth match of his entire career."
Following a disappointing Gold Cup loss with Costa Rica on Sunday, Alvaro Saborio was back at RSL training on Tuesday, though he was held out by coaches.
"He wanted to train today, but … we don’t let our players train typically with that short of a turnaround so we held him back today," Kreis said. "He looks good, looks hungry. We’re happy to have him back and hopeful to keep getting our guys back."
Saborio has scored four goals while playing in just eight games this year because of injuries and international call-ups.
Before the season started, "I think we had a lot of questions about who was going to score the goals [with Saborio gone]," Kreis said.
Nevertheless, RSL’s 33 goals on the year lead Major League Soccer thanks to a productive mix of new forwards and a more attack-minded midfield.
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