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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata in Sandy Thursday May 8, 2014. Plata has emerged as the club's most dynamic offensive player early on this season. The 5-foot-2 forward has played large early on with five goals and two assists in six matches and is easily becoming the fan bases's favorite player.
Real Salt Lake: Injury-depleted team finds goals harder to come by

First Published May 31 2014 05:52 pm • Last Updated May 31 2014 11:00 pm

Seattle • How will Real Salt Lake replace Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio? The club is in the midst of decrypting that equation.

With 12 of the team’s 23 goals in 13 matches having come through the injured RSL starting forward tandem, arguably the most-difficult stretch of the season is becoming increasingly more difficult.

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For the second-straight match, RSL was shut out after being shut out just once in its first 11 matches of 2014 as Plata (left hamstring) and Saborio (foot fracture) might not be teaming up top for the next three to four months. The responsibility rests on the trio of Olmes Garcia, Devon Sandoval and Robbie Findley — all of whom have yet to tally a goal this season.

"It’s a partnership up there and certain guys haven’t played together or played together as much as other guys, so things aren’t probably as fluid as they usually are," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "We just have to make sure the other guys are stepping up as well. We certainly have to find more goals on set pieces, corner kicks because we’ve given a lot of those up and we have to start scoring some of those as well."

To Grabavoy, it’s a collective group effort.

Which means while Garcia and Sandoval will be leaned upon to score goals, it’s more than just the second-year RSL players needing to score in the next two matches.

"I think it’ll come," defender Tony Beltran said.

Three minutes after coach Jeff Cassar implemented Luis Gil and Abdoulie Mansally to help find a goal, Seattle struck for its third of four Saturday afternoon. But Cassar said when RSL changed shape and adapted, opportunities came. But that doesn’t change the reality that without its two top goal-scorers — Plata could return Wednesday at Columbus — others must step up and deliver goals into the back of the net.

"It’s definitely not easy," Cassar said. "I know the character of our locker room is extremely strong."

ckamrani@sltrib.com


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Twitter: @chriskamrani



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