By FRANCO PANIZO
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Real Salt Lake could very well be at full health on Saturday.
Set to take on Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in the 2013 MLS Cup Final, RSL head coach Jason Kreis will have most if not all of his players available. Forward Alvaro Saborio (hip flexor) and left back Chris Wingert (fractured rib and pneumothorax) have recovered from their injuries, have practiced with the club the last couple of weeks and should be available for the championship match on Saturday afternoon.
“We believe that (Wingert) is fully fit and ready,” said Kreis. “He’s trained now for the past (13) days fully and looks like he’s going to be in contention for both the 18 and starting 11.”
“Alvaro also trained the exact same amount as Chris Wingert. For the last two weeks, he’s trained fully and I believe that what we’ve seen so far has put him in contention to be in the 18 and the starting lineup.”
The one player who is an injury concern is Devon Sandoval. The rookie forward picked up a knock in training on earlier in the week and will likely be a game-time decision.
“Devon has picked up an injury as of (Wednesday’s) training session. He’s also a player that played through some injury in the last match against Portland,” said Kreis. “He will be very touch and go and it will be a decision we will make some time after the (Friday) training session into Saturday as to whether or not he’ll be available.”
Here are more notes from MLS Cup:
AFTER TOPSY-TURVY START, FEILHABER FEELING SETTLED
Benny Feilhaber has had some dominant stretches of play this postseason, and a big reason why is because he is feeling comfortable with Sporting Kansas City after joining the club last winter.
Feilhaber has shown well in the Sporting KC’s run to the MLS Cup Final, with his most impressive performance coming in the 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the decisive leg of their Eastern Conference finals series, and he credits that to finally settling in and understanding what the club needs and wants from him.
“I feel really comfortable,” Feilhaber told SBI. “It definitely took about half a season to kind of really understand, and not only understand but kind of have it second nature out of how I want to play and how Peter wants me to play in there. I think after that first half of the season and then I’ve been focusing a lot on my fitness to try and get it as high as I possibly could and the second half of the season has been much more consistent for me, I felt much more comfortable in there and now I think with the opportunity that Peter gave me in the playoffs, it’s been evident that I’m prepared for it.
“It’s exciting to be in this position and now one more game to go.”
Feilhaber’s play has sparked conversation and debate over whether he should be given another look with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Feilhaber admits it would be nice to earn another call-up so as to try and make the squad that will compete in next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, the country he was born in, but that he is not too worried about that now.
“Every player that’s ambitious will look at the national team and see it as a goal,” said Feilhaber. “Having said that, I haven’t really been called in too much by (U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann), so what the media says and what I say in the media and all that stuff (doesn’t matter). It comes down to the games and I know Jurgen is watching. Jurgen watches every single game that he gets a chance to watch and he knows what I’m doing and whether that’s enough or not for a call-up is going to be up to him.
“I’ll keep doing what I’m doing for myself and for Sporting and we’ll see what happens in the future. I’m not trying too think too much about that right now.”
REAL SALT LAKE’S ROAD DRESS CODE
When the Real Salt Lake trio of Jason Kreis, Kyle Beckerman, and Nick Rimando entered the room in which their press conference would be held on Thursday night, it was hard not to notice that they were all wearing camouflage pants.
Naturally, they were asked about it and the reasoning they gave was simple: It’s part of a tradition.
“In the playoffs we always do dress codes for all the away playoff matches,” said Kreis. “We have done that since 2009 and it’s a tradition that these guys have started and it’s a lot of fun. We do some contests with best dressed and worst dressed and have butts-up punishment for that tomorrow after training. It’s a good little fun that Kyle and Nick both kind of take charge of.”
Beckerman was the man responsible for choosing the MLS Cup trip’s attire and said he choose that look in part because of their far-from stylish appearance during their Western Conference semifinals series against the LA Galaxy.
“We tried denim on denim against LA and that didn’t work,” said Beckerman. “We switched it up, but for fun (we went) with the ‘camo’ and khaki and we stuck with it.”
NIELSEN EAGER TO END LONG CHAMPIONSHIP WAIT
Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was noncommittal when asked if he would retire after the season if the club were to win the MLS Cup, but he revealed that he is hungry to win the title on Saturday so as to end a 15-year trophy-less drought and add to his collection of positive memories.
“When I was 21 years-old I won my first championship and I thought that would be one out of many,” said Nielsen. “Now, I’m 36 and I still got only that one, so of course I will appreciate it.”
What do you think of these notes? Think Kreis should start Saborio? Do you think Feilhaber is one of the x-factors heading into the match?
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