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Real Salt Lake looking likely to land USL PRO affiliate

Published August 13, 2014 6:09 pm

MLS • Minor league could add expansion franchise in Salt Lake City for 2015 season.
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Sandy • All signs point to a significant addition to Real Salt Lake in the coming year. Internal discussions at the club indicate RSL will in fact have a USL PRO team playing in Utah, and under the umbrella of the franchise, for the 2015 USL PRO season. RSL's vice president of communications, Trey Fitz-Gerald, and broadcaster Brian Dunseth reported the developments on ESPN700's OnFrame on Tuesday night.

The Tribune has reported on the club's initial conversations with the Utah State Fairpark regarding a possible minor-league stadium being built in Salt Lake City. On Aug. 1, it was noted that team owner Dell Loy Hansen wouldn't seek public funding for the anticipated $12 million to $13 million stadium that would host a capacity of 5,000 to 8,000 spectators. It is becoming increasingly likely that the USL PRO team would play at Rio Tinto Stadium during the 2015 campaign and move to the Fairpark area in 2016.

"As reported last week, owner Dell Loy Hansen is simultaneously working on a privately funded stadium project at the Salt Lake City Fairpark for the 2016 season, which would serve as the long-term home for the USL PRO team, considered a vital development piece bridging the RSL-Arizona Academy and the MLS side," Fitz-Gerald said Wednesday.

The USL PRO league already features 14 franchises around the country and is welcoming in 2015 expansion franchises such as Austin, Colorado Springs, Louisville, St. Louis and Tulsa.

"Just gutted for him"

Jeff Cassar phoned John Stertzer on Wednesday morning to try and provide some light in a time of darkness. RSL's 23-year-old second-year midfielder suffered his second consecutive season-ending injury Tuesday night when he fractured his right tibia in the friendly against Mexico's Club Tijuana. He'll be out at least 3 to 4 months and will undergo surgery Thursday morning, with team surgeon Andrew Cooper inserting a rod in the right leg.

"I spoke to him this morning and just said, 'It's a bump in the road, it's something you're going to come back 100 percent from,' " Cassar said. "But just gutted for him because he was really starting to come into his own, get a comfort [level] out on the field … but he'll be back."

Veteran Chris Wingert isn't too pleased that Stertzer's injury came in an international friendly four days before a showdown against the top team in the West, the Seattle Sounders.

"It's awful. I feel terrible for him. It happens in a game that the players are basically getting nothing out of," Wingert said. "[Tijuana] bring their U-18 squad here and we have one of these games of the year on Saturday. I think it's something that is a real shame and needs to be discussed in the next CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement]."

Back and ahead of schedule

A familiar face jogged around America First Field on Wednesday morning in Sandy. All-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio began another stage of his rehabilitation from a fractured foot suffered on May 29 — shedding his walking boot and doing some light running.

"He's always pushing the envelope to try to get back as soon as he can to contribute for the team," Cassar said. "That's just how Sabo is. It's a big step in the right direction."

Cassar said Monday the target date for Saborio to start running and be out of the boot is Aug. 25, but Cooper said RSL's main striker is progressing well and the X-rays indicate the broken bone in his foot is healing well. The initial target date for his official return to vying for game-day rosters is late September or early October, but Cassar said the club is taking it day by day.

"I know he's going to push himself to get back as soon as possible and we've got to make smart choices, so when he comes back, he's OK," he said.


Twitter: @chriskamrani ­

Sounders at RSL

O At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy

Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

TV • NBC Sports






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