If you had to pinpoint a theme for Real Salt Lake’s 2017 campaign, you’d probably come back with two things: horrible, horrible losses — and injuries.
Unfortunately, only one of those things might be in the rear-view mirror.
A rash of injuries to the back half of RSL’s roster has claimed three players in recent weeks, and it looks like all three could be out for most of the season, if not all of it.
That’s a slightly different theme than the first half of the season, in which the front half of the roster has more often injured, giving a number of young players opportunities when they likely wouldn’t have had much cause for earning minutes.
On June 30, Real Salt Lake announced that Allen had undergone a successful surgery to correct a knee injury. Allen, who I considered one of RSL’s best players in preseason, played only two matches in 2017 for RSL, both of which came when Jeff Cassar was still the club’s coach. He started in the first two matches of the season.
It’s a blow for Allen, 22, for whom the 2017 promised to provide an opportunity to break into a starting role. It’ll be his second season in his four-year career that will have been claimed nearly entirely by injuries, with his debut season in 2014 being cut woefully short — again, having only played in two MLS matches. He did play in the US Open Cup before being substituted with the injury, and presumably, it’s the one for which he had surgery.
2015 and 2016 both saw him play 23 matches in each season, with several shorter injuries removing him from contention for not-inconsiderable periods of time.
On Thursday, Real Salt Lake announced that Velazco would be out for about four months after suffering a high ankle sprain that was stabilized with a surgery. One of the players who really took advance of RSL’s last big friendly, Velazco impressed enough against Inter Milan to perhaps speed up his ascension to the first team.
Now? We’re just hoping that he’s given a chance in preseason 2018. Maybe he can be back by MLS Cup, but frankly, that’s a long shot I’m not willing to even think about.
Here’s a curious one: We still don’t know what Omar Holness’s injury is, or for how long he’ll be out. In a June 29 report from Salt Lake Tribune reporter Chris Kamrani, RSL coach Mike Petke didn’t really shed any light on the matter.
"Yes, but I'm not ready to make that statement yet," Petke said. "I just want to follow protocol and just double-check, but yes, we know exactly what's wrong with Omar, unfortunately."
I don’t know what that means, really, but it sure doesn’t sound good. I’m chalking this one up as an out-for-the-season thing, too.
That would be a blow for Holness, who only played nine matches in 2016 after suffering a seizure on the field for Real Monarchs. All of his RSL appearances came after that point.
But on the positive side ... Chad Barrett?
A backup striker by trade these days, Chad Barrett has been out for most of the season from the third match, when he suffered an injury that also required surgery. He was listed as out for an estimated four to six months in April, which could mean he’s closing in on a return. He did post a photo today on Instagram showing him at a Salt Lake-area MRI facility, but no word has been passed down quite yet.
His is the exception, of course, given he could be back sooner rather than later. Four months from April would put him back in early August; six months would see him back in early October. There are plenty of meaningful matches between those two estimates, of course, so we’ll just have to remain hopeful.
Also, Brooks Lennon!
After suffering an ankle sprain in training, reported on July 7 by Salt Lake Tribune reporter Maddie Lee, we might have expected the worst. But the club has reported that Lennon has at least been jogging at training, and that gives us some hope for a fairly speedy return.