Mar 20, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
When you consider Real Salt Lake were without Javier Morales and Chris Schuler Saturday in Santa Clara, the point they took from the Earthquakes looks like an even better result. Of course, the Western Conference champions were up two at half-time, meaning their eventual 3-3 draw could be seen as points lost. Against a team that’s now won 20 straight at Buck Shaw, however, a slightly short-handed RSL should be content with its result.
This weekend, however, Jeff Cassar’s team will expect full points when the LA Galaxy visit Rio Tinto (4:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN), a game that should see Morales back at full strength. After sitting out Saturday’s game with back problems, the Argentine creator has declared himself fit. The rest is up to Cassar.
“I’m feeling good and I’ll be ready, so you’ll have to ask the coach,” Morales joked on Thursday, speaking to the Salt Lake media assembled after practice (as reported by Chris Kamrani). The 34-year-old midfielder played 78 minutes in RSL’s season-opening win at LA before being left out of Cassar’s 18 in San Jose.
Schuler has yet to make RSL’s bench this season, with the nominal first choice center back still recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Though Cassar said the 26-year-old is “getting healthier everyday,” all indications are he’ll join Sebastian Velazquez (hamstring) out of the team this week. Aaron Maund, however, the defender who has slid into Schuler’s spot along side Nat Borchers, looks set to resume his place in the starting XI as he recovers from a recent knock.
RSL’s other major fitness concern, a potential back injury to Nick Rimando, turned out to be no concern at all. The U.S. international appeared to tweak his lower back while making that remarkable reflex save on Chris Wondolowski last weekend. According to the veteran keeper, the soreness he expected to experience Sunday morning never materialized. Per Kamrani’s timeline, Rimando “felt great” the day after RSL’s draw at Buck Shaw.
It leaves Real Salt Lake as healthy as they could have expected ahead of Saturday’s game. Velasquez was always a long shot, while Schuler’s progress is being managed with care. With Morales, Rimando, and Maund apparently fine, Cassar has close to his full team available for their rematch with LA.
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