SANDY — Looking back on last week's loss to Kansas City, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis believes his team would've been much better off demonstrating a bit more patience when in possession.
Without injured midfielders Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy, being strong on the ball against the league's best team was always going to be tough. Both, however, might be back in the mix this weekend at San Jose.
"I think they're both kind of in the same boat. I'm crossing my fingers that we can have both of them available for Saturday," said Kreis.
Grabavoy and Morales both trained Wednesday without limitations, which certainly increases the likelihood of their availability against the Earthquakes.
With a midweek game at Dallas next Wednesday followed by a Saturday game at home against Toronto FC, even if Grabavoy and Morales don't crack the lineup this weekend, both figure to be back on the field in some capacity within a week.
For Grabavoy, it's all pain management. He dislocated a rib in the second half against Montreal on April 4, and team trainers have said all along that he could be back playing once he could tolerate the pain.
Kreis said that's never going to be an issue with Grabavoy.
"I've known Ned to be a very tough player. It doesn't surprise me that he could probably get through some pain that other guys couldn't. Hopefully over the next couple days he'll continue to improve and hopefully we can consider him for the weekend," said Kreis.
Grabavoy has been such an integral part of RSL's early success this year, it's easy to see why the coaching staff wants him on the field for this Saturday's first-place showdown with San Jose.
Following Wednesday's practice, Grabavoy said the injury is still quite painful, but contact isn't the primary culprit. If he twists his upper body awkwardly or slides on the ground, he can't help but grimace. Wearing a protective wrap with extra padding doesn't help either. Grabavoy said it just makes it tougher to breathe when he gets winded.
Morales injured his hamstring in the same game as Grabavoy, and trainers initially believed he'd be out two to four weeks. After getting through Wednesday's practice without injury concerns, Morales appears ready to go at the three-week mark.
Morales has been hobbled by injury concerns since the start of training camp in late January, and as a result he's only started one of seven matches thus far.
One of Morales' best games since joining Real Salt Lake came at San Jose in the 2010 opener as he scored two wonder goals in spearheading the 3-0 victory.