HERRIMAN — Albert Rusnak, Real Salt Lake's starting attacking midfielder, will return to play following a non-contact neck injury. Fans should expect to see him on the field Saturday night when RSL takes on the Chicago Fire at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The neck spasm came early in the 0-0 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. Rusnak went down within the first seven minutes of play and Damir Kreilach subbed in his place.
From the sidelines: RSL training staff reporting Albert suffered severe neck pain early in the match, but did not have contact with any SJ player.— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) July 29, 2018
Damir has subbed into the match for Rusnák. pic.twitter.com/dgZ71QMfzO
When Rusnak realized he would not return to play due to a neck spasm, he watched the rest of the match from the locker room.
"I hadn’t had any contact with any other player, there wasn't any sharp movement or anything and all the sudden I couldn't move my neck to the left at all," Rusnak said. "I tried to go next to the field and see if they could put some cream on it or something, but it wasn't gonna happen that game. It was too painful to even move it at that point."
Although Rusnak's neck spasm was quite painful at first, he is confident he will return before Saturday night's match. He has worked with the team's physical trainer and is already subbing in at practices.
RSL head coach Mike Petke said Kreilach did a great job subbing in for Rusnak during the emergency situation to help the team force a draw. Both Kreilach and Rusnak have been key players for RSL at midfielder this season.
"We missed Albert's creativity a little bit but we got a result," Petke said. "… It might have affected (the team) a little bit, but Dom did a great job coming in."
Rusnak is RSL's second highest season goal scorer with five. RSL has struggled on the road, claiming just one win out of 11 road matches this season. His return will be crucial in potentially helping the team grab three points against Chicago (8 p.m. Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium) at home to stay in the run for a playoff spot.