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Sandy • One of the many building blocks of Real Salt Lake's future took laps around America First Field Tuesday morning. It'd been a while since he's even been able to make an appearance. But Justen Glad, the 20-year-old center back who established himself as RSL's premier defender a year ago, has been out of the picture.
A knee injury suffered in the CONCACAF Championship final in Costa Rica in early March has kept Glad sidelined indefinitely. Glad helped the U.S. U-20 national team not only qualify for this summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea, but also hoist the CONCACAF Championship title for the first time ever.
Of the ongoing list of injured RSL players, Glad's absence has been particularly frustrating for the franchise after his breakout year in 2016. He started 27 regular-season matches and even bagged himself a couple of goals. So as the 6-foot-tall center back took laps with right back Tony Beltran (back/calf), it begged the question once again: When will Glad return to training and potentially make his first RSL appearance of 2017?
"At this point, I can't give you an exact timeline," RSL coach Mike Petke said.
Petke said he had a meeting with Glad Tuesday morning.
"It's one of the few times as a coach that I'm not selfish in the fact of what's best for the team," Petke said. "I want so bad for this kid to play in the U-20 World Cup. Even if it meant that we wouldn't have him. If we could have him back three weeks early here as opposed to him being ready for the World Cup, I'd prefer him to be ready for the World Cup. He's earned that right. He's done phenomenally. He's played so well. I just hope it happens for him."
The U-20 World Cup begins May 20 in South Korea and ends June 11. Depending on Glad's recovery process, he could join the U.S. when coach Tab Ramos finalizes his roster and continue to work on his rehab and fitness levels there. Should Glad make the roster, it would mean that he likely wouldn't make his RSL debut in 2017 until June at the earliest.
More injury updates
While Glad and Beltran remained sidelined for the time being, RSL welcomed back some familiar faces into Tuesday's training session. Joao Plata (quad), Jordan Allen (quad) and Sunday Stephen (hamstring) all trained fully. Aaron Maund (hamstring) worked off to the side with RSL's training staff as well.
Asked if he expects anyone of those players to be available for game-day selection Saturday against Atlanta United, Petke said it's still too early in the week to determine if any of the injured played would be ready.
"I hope so," he said. "I hope we have more options than we've had to create a bit of competition. But at the end of the day, we'll make due with what we have."
ATL on its way
As RSL preps for its first-ever showdown with expansion franchise Atlanta United, Petke said he's been very impressed with the way the new MLS club has fared in its first six weeks of 2017. Atlanta is 2-2-2 with 14 goals scored, second-most in league so far this year.
"They're good I enjoy watching them play," Petke said. "They're very explosive offensively. They are sound defensively, as well. They're balanced throughout. But their key players can hurt you. Actually, you could say their front five can hurt you, with pace, with quality, with their ability to go right to goal and do it with quality. That's something we've been working on."