Match Preview: Injuries, illness an annoyance as depth continues to shine

USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake face Montreal Impact in an early match today, and while injuries and illness take their toll, a potentially unchanged starting lineup could grant some much-needed continuity for once.

Alvaro Saborio, as expected, remains out with a quad tear, and Rich Balchan (shoulder separation) and Cole Grossman (concussion) both remain out. Questionable are Yordany Alvarez, with ankle bruising; Nat Borchers, with influenza; Robbie Findley, with knee problems; and Olmes Garcia, with an adductor strain.

Garcia's appearance — both on the bench and in the match — on Wednesday would seem to indicate that he is closest to recovery between him and Findley. His goal on Wednesday was another in a line of opportunities he's created, and when fit, he's surely arguing strongly for a starting place.

Carlos Salcedo could start after having a second yellow rescinded from Wednesday's match; in an interview with the young defender on ESPN700, he indicated he could be in line for another start. With Borchers potentially out for the match with illness, Salcedo starting would provide some excitement. However, Kwame Watson-Siriboe has traveled to Montreal after missing the last two matches following the birth of his child, and as such may be in line for a start. Still, Salcedo's fitness and performance in midweek could see him win out.

He'd play alongside an unchanged remainder of the back four, one must imagine, with Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran, and Chris Wingert there to keep Montreal Impact at bay.

The midfield should remain unchanged, with Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, and Luis Gil getting the starts; some argument could be made that Velasquez has done enough to warrant a start, but Gil's goalscoring and keen vision could be enough to keep him in the lineup from the get-go. Whether he starts or not, Velasquez is almost certain to see the pitch, having been a substitute in the last four consecutive matches.

If Garcia isn't ready to start, Joao Plata and Devon Sandoval are almost inevitably the starting pair. Sandoval scored his first professional goal on Wednesday — a poacher's effort hit with immense power — and while Plata was fairly quiet on the night, he pulled in two assists against Vancouver a week ago. The two have developed an early understanding and more time together would only aid that.

While injuries and illness have hurt, there are certainly advantages to younger players receiving minutes early in the season and, for some, in their careers.

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