SANDY — Just when it looked like Real Salt Lake was getting back to full strength, bam, the injury bug reared its ugly head again.
Late in Wednesday's match against Montreal, Ned Grabavoy suffered a dislocated left rib — though incredibly he gutted it out and played the final 15 or so minutes — while Javier Morales suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to exit the field in the 90th minute.
Grabavoy's specific injury according to trainer Tyson Pace is a dislocated left rib at costochondral junction. The recovery time for such an injury varies.
An ultrasound revealed that Morales has a first degree right hamstring strain, and he's expected to be out for two to three weeks.
It was another setback for Morales, who missed most of the 2011 season with a broken ankle. Offseason surgery to clean up a bone spur in his Achilles slowed Morales in the preseason, and then a quadriceps strain further complicated his return late in the preseason.
He made his first start of the season at Portland last weekend, and RSL's coaching staff was hoping to start him again this Saturday against visiting Colorado.
"We had a very set plan on who was going to start Saturday night, and now it looks like a couple of those guys were injured," said RSL coach Jason Kreis after Wednesday's match.
Obviously frustrated by the setback, Morales was the first player to leave Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night less than 10 minutes after the match.
Against Montreal, Morales and Grabavoy entered the match simultaneously for Luis Gil and Jonny Steele in the 63rd minute. Now, however, it looks like Gil and Steele might have to start again this weekend. Gil is one of six RSL players who has started all five matches this season.
Grabavoy has been one Real Salt Lake's most consistent players through the first month of the season, but he's been no stranger to lengthy injuries the past couple years. He only played in three of RSL's final 14 regular-season matches last year because of a groin strain. Early in 2010, an MCL sprain sidelined him for about a month.
Even though the situation isn't ideal, Kreis has become an expert the past couple years when it comes to juggling lineups and still getting results.
It started late in 2010 as Real Salt Lake successfully navigated through Champions League group play while still threatening the L.A. Galaxy for the MLS Supporters Shield until the final weekend of the season.
The need to juggle lineups intensified last year when Morales went down with a broken ankle and numerous players were called in for national team duty throughout the season.