Barring an unusually quick recovery, Real Salt Lake will be playing another match without Javier Morales — their third this season — on Wednesday.
Morales was taken out of Friday's match with a concussion in the 41st minute, and the odds are very high that he won't be playing on Wednesday. His concussion was confirmed today and reported by media around RSL (KSL and Salt Lake Tribune reporters, in particular). It's hard to say when he'll be back in action, but concussion protocol would almost certainly demand Morales's absence.
Of course, we'd rather Javier Morales was healthy and available, but we'd also rather he was healthy — mentally and physically — in the long term. That's more important than winning any game.
Without Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake is left in — again — a tricky position. It's not quite a bind, but it's not far off. There are a few ideas on solving that problem.
1. Drop Luis Gil in Morales's spot
This is the one we've tried time and time again, and it kind of works, but it never really works. Is that down to a home-road conundrum? Is it about confidence? Ability? Understanding? Something else entirely?
Whatever it is, his one key pass in 505 minutes — one pass leading to a shot — doesn't see him as a great option there, regardless of where he's been playing to this point.
2. Push Luke Mulholland further forward
Again, this isn't optimal, but it's a position we've had a chance to see Mulholland in. I've been a little frustrated with his mindless moments we saw in the last match, but maybe a position further up the field gives him a chance to both refocus his energy and to play with a bit more freedom in his passing. The biggest benefit here is that Mulholland's pressure can be helpful, and it's something we've missed.
3. Put Luis Gil deeper in the midfield
Here's the thing — if Mulholland is further forward, who plays behind him? Here's a question: Why not Luis Gil? You don't have to exclude the midfielder if you put Mulholland in Morales's spot. Gil's passing accuracy has been good (at least for this team with 80 percent), his passes have been short — and they've often been sideways. Don't take that as a knock on Gil — sideways passing is essential in a possession-oriented system.
4. Start Sebastian Saucedo
Here's a wild idea: Why not put Sebastian Saucedo in the middle of the pitch? He's been an interesting option twice now, and he's a creative player that wants to get forward. He has experience in the middle of the park. Why not take a risk on him?
Well, there's always a risk with young players — you can't just throw them to the wolves because they've looked positive once. Maybe a better solution is to plan to give the kid 30 minutes — that seems like a good middle ground.