Sandy • Jeff Cassar has several reasons to remain in a good mood. Real Salt Lake is off to a 2-0-3 start, unbeaten in five difficult matches in its quest to make the playoffs for a seventh-straight season in a row. The RSL coach even quipped with reporters when asked to lay out the long list of injuries with recent additions.
"We’re getting healthier," Cassar said with a smile.
Real Salt Lake at PhiladelphiaSaturday, 2 p.m.
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In some aspects, it’s true. RSL has seen Sebastian Velasquez, Chris Wingert, Jordan Allen and Aaron Maund return fully to training. Joao Plata began working on individual drills Tuesday to work his way back from a hamstring injury suffered on March 22 against the L.A. Galaxy. Robbie Findley, recovering from off-season knee surgery, could partake in training fully for the first time since December next week.
Tony Beltran, who suffered an ankle injury while playing in a friendly with the U.S. men’s national team last Wednesday and missed Saturday’s MLS Cup rematch at Sporting Kansas City, is expected to train fully soon. Defender Chris Schuler had a day off Tuesday, Cassar said.
But Nick Rimando (knee) and Luis Gil (leg) were absent from Tuesday’s training session ahead of Saturday’s match at Philadelphia, RSL’s fourth road game in six to start the 2014 season. Cassar said Rimando — who like Beltran suffered an injury while away with the U.S. last week — is getting better each day, but added he doesn’t expect Rimando to be ready for Saturday’s match with the Union. Gil looks doubtful as well, as Cassar said he’s not sure what Gil’s availability will be this weekend.
"[The injury] is kind of in a weird area," Cassar said. "If I described it, we’d have to bleep me."
The injury toll, while showing some signs of ebbing, continues to mount. Add up the amount of games 12 injured players have missed five weeks into the season and it’s already at 30.
Glad to join
The seventh homegrown player in club history was officially announced Monday. Justen Glad, 17, was signed by RSL last Friday as The Tribune first reported. Having spent the last two seasons with RSL’s youth academy in Casa Grande, Ariz., the Tucson native is capable of playing anywhere along the back line.
"He’s somebody that’s really respected with the guys on the team at such a young age," Cassar said. "Every time we had him in preseason or reserve-team games, he did fantastic. I just expect him to grow and flourish in our environment and you never know when he’s going to contribute because every time he’s played with us, he’s done extremely well."
Coinciding with Glad’s signing, RSL released 2014 third-round draft pick Joey Dillon.
It’s looking like Jeff Attinella will get another start between the pipes for RSL this weekend. But the 25-year-old goalkeeper from Clearwater, Fla., will most likely see a familiar face on the other side of the field at Philadelphia. Coming off a nine-save performance at Sporting KC, Attinella and his team could face Zac MacMath, the Union’s 22-year-old starting goalkeeper.
The two played for the same club in the Clearwater area and even faced off a couple times in high school, Attinella said. The two goalkeepers have already been exchanging messages this week.
"We’re cordial," Attinella said. "We hope the best for each other, so hopefully we both have good games, but hopefully [RSL] have a better one."
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