How long will Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach’s surgery rehab take?

RSL hopeful the 33-year-old midfielder will return in time for the playoffs

Real Salt Lake midfielder Damir Kreilach, center top, heads the ball away from Sporting Kansas City midfielder Remi Walter, right, during the first half of an MLS soccer match Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Nick Tre. Smith)

Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach started the week looking for another opinion on his lingering back pain.

The diagnosis: Sooner or later, the 33-year-old midfielder would need surgery.

So after weeks of rehabilitation in hope that he would soon rejoin his teammates on the field, Kreilach underwent surgery on his lower back this week.

“While Damir’s rehabilitation showed signs of progress, undergoing this minimally invasive procedure will give him the best opportunity for a successful long-term outcome,” RSL senior director of athlete health and performance Theron Enns said in a statement.

Now the question becomes whether Kreilach will be ready to return in time for Major League Soccer’s postseason.

“Now it’s about a three-month process,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni told ESPN 700. “The first [month], he’s barely moving. The second month is rehab and the third month is basically starting to get your physical endurance, stamina, strength back to 100 percent.

“It’s usually a 3-6 month process. My understanding of Dami as a human being is he’s going to do whatever it takes to get back as soon as possible.”

Saving Savarino

The return of club favorite Jefferson Savarino has fans clamoring to see more of the talented winger.

Mastroeni said Savarino will likely get more minutes in Saturday’s match in Vancouver than he did in his return to Rio Tinto last week, but RSL doesn’t want to rush him.

“I think the most important thing is bringing him along in a way where he’s not overexerting himself,” Mastroeni said on ESPN 700. “For me, it’s about giving him more minutes than he got the week before but letting him come into a game that has lost a little of that [early] energy so he can focus on himself.”

With a two-week break on the horizon, RSL expects Savarino to be ready to start when MLS action resumes.

RSL acquires playmaker in the midfielder

On Thursday, RSL acquired 18-year-old playmaking midfielder Diego Luna from El Paso in the USL Championship. Luna scored 13 goals and had seven assists in 41 matches for El Paso during the 2021-22 seasons.

“I believe Real Salt Lake is a historic club with an amazing and vibrant fan base; I am grateful for the faith RSL has in me and my abilities, and I look forward to contributing to the team,” Luna said.

With his team tied for second place in the Western Conference, Mastroeni believes now is an ideal time to add to the roster.

“I think now would be the best time to integrate players because the vibe in the locker room is really good, confidence is high, and I think there’s an overwhelming feeling of positivity within the team,” the coach said.

How to watch Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Real Salt Lake (7-3-4, 25 pts, t-2nd West) vs. Vancouver (4-7-2, 14 pts, 12th West)

Kickoff: Saturday, 5 p.m. MT

TV: KMYU (12 over the air, 22 satellite and 643 HD on cable)

Streaming: KSL Sports App,

Radio: ESPN700 AM radio. Spanish-speaking broadcast on KBMG Latino 106.3 FM, La Gran D 102.3 FM and KTUB 1600 AM