Real Salt Lake’s center back situation went from good to bad to good again over the last four to eight weeks — and it all stems from one unexpected injury that has kept Aaron Maund out for a prolonged period.
That injury: a broken toe, sustained at some point during or after RSL’s 1-0 loss to Toronto FC. The nature of the injury was only confirmed yesterday by former RSL beat writer Aaron Falk, who has been spelling for Chris Kamrani at the Salt Lake Tribune (rather, returning to his old beat.)
Aaron Maund has a broken toe, Cassar says, and is still weighing whether to have it surgically repaired.— Aaron Falk (@aaronfalk) August 24, 2016
That means these three games Maund has missed are likely to extend further, and frankly, we’ll probably we waiting until 2017 to see him on the pitch again.
There’s a certain funny quality to the injury. After a year of hemming and hawing about signing Chris Schuler because he has proved historically injury prone, Aaron Maund goes down with a foot injury. It’s a familiar tune. It’s what gave Maund a chance to become a regular starter last year, and that paid dividends even while our season suffered.
And this year, it’s what led to Chris Schuler being signed at the pace at which he was, and it’s what’s given Jamison Olave a new lease on playing time. With only three games of injury absence under his belt, Maund has given opportunities to two veteran Real Salt Lake players.
That should be a testament to the quality Maund has provided this season, and particularly how his partnership with Justen Glad has grown. He’s become essentially irreplaceable, even if we’re now having to try.
But here’s the crazy thing: We did replace him. Not long-term, obviously. But for the remainder of this season, we’re now faced with the prospect of veteran Jamison Olave securing a starting place for eight-plus games.
If you told fans that would be the case at the beginning of the season — or if you wrote about it on a certain blog — the response would be swift and decisive: That can never be the case, the popular consensus was. We needed to sign a center back to prevent that from happening. All the while, Olave’s contract girth has raised ire among a similar subset of fans who are concerned that it prevented us from signing a center back.
While the reality of that may or may not be the case — there are far too many ins and outs that we can’t really be certain about that — it had proved a narrative incredibly difficult to squash. Now?
Well, that argument may have been temporarily squashed. Three very good performances in a row (and five in three games) has us, well, not worried.
If Aaron Maund doesn’t return by the end of the season, we might just be OK.
If you told fans that little quip, you’d be chased out of the building. But maybe — just maybe — it was the right call. Maybe Jamison Olave is a very good backup center back.
These next eight games will be big in determining just that.