Real Salt Lake will have to go another match without a key player — but this time, it's Joao Plata, who suffered a hip injury in training yesterday.
Today, Salt Lake Tribune's Chris Kamrani reported that Plata is set to miss seven to ten days with that injury. That definitely means he'll miss Saturday's game, which could be a stern test for RSL.
That test is made only sterner by the absence of Plata, who has started all six matches this season for RSL, and playing 90 minutes in all but two of those. His return to full fitness for 2016 has heralded a return to form and improvement for Salt Lake.
Further, Plata has assisted or scored in every match — although he hasn't done both this season, so there's plenty to which we can look forward.
With that in mind, Real Salt Lake will be forced to find someone to replace him positionally, and it's not entirely clear who that should be. Javier Morales is slated to return, so the news isn't all negative — and there will be influencers on the pitch.
Who are the top three candidates to replace him?
He's not going to play quite like Plata will, but Allen is a creative attacking player, and his influence should be growing. He's also the most natural player here, because he's experienced playing in wide roles.
But we should wonder: Is Plata's influence best served out wide? I don't think so. He's at his best when he can roam with abandon, and when he can pick up the ball wide and come centrally, or pick up the ball centrally and move a bit wider.
Jordan Allen can do that, but it's not something he's demonstrated too heavily at this point in his MLS career.
As a forward, Garcia seems a natural replacement because he can bring a similar attacking spirit that other players might not. He's not going to beat players on the dribble too frequently, but his movement is generally good, and he can find a good shot if the opportunity suits him.
He's also been a bit absent this year, playing only 12 minutes as RSL looks to grind down their opponents. Could this be his chance to reassert himself?
Alright, so Luke Mulholland clearly isn't a like-for-like replacement. Nobody's going to pretend he's not. But if we're looking for a player that will run out wide for as many minutes as his little body will carry him, and who isn't afraid to unleash a shot from distance, Mulholland could be a tactical piece we hadn't really considered.