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Real Salt Lake: Grabavoy close to getting back on the field for RSL

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Ned Grabavoy

Ned Grabavoy

Real Salt Lake

SANDY — It's been exactly a month since Ned Grabavoy went down with a sprained MCL against the Seattle Sounders in Real Salt Lake's home opener.

He's finally ready to get back in the mix.

Grabavoy said he expects to be available for selection for this Thursday's home match against Houston. He had originally hoped to be in RSL's 18-man gameday roster for Saturday's 3-0 win over Philadelphia, but the coaches and training staff opted not to push their luck.

"I'm the kind of guy that would probably say, 'Oh yeah I'm ready,' and sacrifice my body on a play," said Grabavoy prior to the Philly match. "As frustrating as it is not to be able to play, maybe it's the smartest thing at this point."

This week, though, that shouldn't be an issue.

The bigger question is how Grabavoy fits into the midfield rotation. Based largely on his outstanding performance in last year's MLS Cup and his excellent preseason, Grabavoy began the season as a first-choice midfielder for Real Salt Lake and started the first three matches.

With as well as Andy Williams has played in his absence the past month, Grabavoy will likely have to earn that starting spot again.

Realistically, that's of little concern to Grabavoy. He just wants to get healthy again and contribute in whatever capacity is necessary.

This whole process has been tougher than he ever could've imagined.

"I've never really had to deal with an injury before, and this is my seventh season in this league. It's tough like that," Grabavoy said.

The rare injury came on a crunching tackle from Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso shortly before halftime. Prior to the knee injury, he had been enjoying a wonderful match in RSL's diamond midfield.

Grabavoy has tried expediting his initial four- to eight-week recovery time by using the platelet-rich plasma therapy made popular locally by Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz.

Last Friday's training session at Rio Tinto Stadium was the first time Grabavoy went all out since the injury. In previous practices he'd served as the neutral offensive player in short-sided drills. On Friday, he was on a specific team and was forced to do some defending.

He admitted afterward, though, that he wasn't quite 100 percent, and wouldn't be suiting up to play expansion Philadelphia.

"Mentally there are some things right now that aren't sharp, still some things that need to come as far just being able to go all out and tackle with both feet," Grabavoy said.

That type of collision is how Grabavoy picked up the injury in the first place, and he doesn't want to come back too early and then be unsure of himself if a similar tackle presents itself.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com