Real Salt Lake will be without right back Tony Beltran this weekend — and perhaps beyond if RSL makes the MLS playoffs.
The veteran defender suffered a knee injury in RSL’s match at Colorado on Sunday when Colorado forward Dominique Badji turned his hip into Beltran’s swinging leg in the 24th minute. Badji was issued a yellow card for the play.
“He got injured on a crap play in a crap environment,” RSL coach Petke said after Thursday‘s training session. “And I’m gutted for him because he’s really hurt, very badly hurt. That’s not the way it should have went down.”
Demar Phillips replaced Beltran in the match, and he is an option to start Sunday against Sporting Kansas City in RSL’s last match of the regular season. Chris Wingert also could take Beltran’s spot.
Wingert shared time with Danilo Acosta at left back when Phillips was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Wingert contributed to back-to back clean sheets against Houston and D.C. on Aug. 5 and 13.
Beltran, in addition to being a strong defensive presence, gets involved in the attack perhaps more than any other RSL defender.
Sporting KC at Real Salt Lake
Sunday, 2 p.m.
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“We play a certain way, and we’re going to continue to play that way,” Petke said. “So whoever steps in for him has to have those same characteristics and do those same things.”
Possible Savarino return?
Petke still hasn’t publicly ruled out winger Jefferson Savarino’s return from an ankle sprain this weekend.
He has been out since leaving RSL’s 1-1 draw at Los Angeles on Sept. 30 with the injury. Savarino ran with a ball at training Thursday but has yet to be involved in team drills.
“Tomorrow we’ll obviously go a little harder with him and we’ll see where he’s at,” Petke said.
Acosta solidifying his starting role
Since splitting time with veteran Chris Wingert in August and the beginning of September, 19-year-old Danilo Acosta has started at left back in each of RSL’s past four games.
“He has always had the ability but needs that experience,” veteran center back David Horst said after RSL‘s 1-0 loss at Colorado Sunday. “He has made that left back spot his, and it’s going to be hard for anybody to take it from him.”
Especially with the loss of Beltran at right back, Acosta likely has his starting spot locked up for the rest of the season — however long that is.
U-17 World Cup update
Taylor Booth, a 15-year-old Utah native and RSL Academy player, and the U-17 United States national team are headed to the World Cup quarterfinals.
Booth entered the USA’s 5-0 rout of Paraguay Monday off the bench in the 79th minute.
The win secured the United States’ spot in the final eight. It is scheduled to face England at 8:30 a.m. MT Saturday in Goa, India.