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Sandy • With his teammates battling it out against one another in Wednesday afternoon's training session, Burrito Martinez stood parallel to the action. The Argentine shuttled around various cones on the field at Rio Tinto Stadium under the microscope of head athletic trainer Tyson Pace. When he wasn't pushing his agility, he and Pace went through various ball drills testing his dexterity.
For 50 minutes Wednesday, Martinez trained.
Considering the look of disgust he had walking off the field Saturday evening in Southern California, Wednesday's workload was a sizable step in the right direction. The 30-year-old who picked up a right quadriceps strain and was subbed off in the 23rd minute of the 5-2 loss at L.A. last weekend is progressing nicely, RSL coach Jeff Cassar said.
"We'll see how he got through today," Cassar continued. "The MRI came back pretty good, and we're going to keep progressing him. I would say it's probable [versus Houston]."
The fact Martinez was able to train with his teammates before breaking off to do individual work with Pace is a positive sign for RSL ahead of its last home game for seven weeks when it hosts the Dynamo Saturday night in Sandy. How Martinez's muscle responds to the workout the rest of the week remains to be seen.
Still absent from training sessions is Joao Plata.
The 24-year-old striker with four goals and four assists is still dealing with a hip flexor strain picked up last Wednesday. Cassar said Plata remains "a little further away than Juan, but getting better."
"He's doing all the right work to get right," Cassar added. "I don't think we're being overcautious. He's just not even training right now, so we're not babying him at all. What we want is, when he's able to train, train fully. Not this half-in, half-out type thing."
RSL's stable of wide forwards is far from motoring along at full strength right now. Along with Plata and Martinez, Emery Welshman continues to rehab a hip flexor injury that has prevented him from training fully this season. Olmes Garcia, who has been dealing with a lingering ankle sprain the last month, started and went 90 minutes in Real Monarchs' 0-0 draw against Sounders 2 Tuesday night.
Asked if he's entertained the idea of shifting away from RSL's patented 4-3-3 look this weekend, Cassar said "not really."
"I think we've played several players in different positions this year and gotten the results," he said. "I wouldn't want to change anything for one particular position, but we can play differently with different people in those [spots]. It just looks a little different.
"You see it throughout the league, you see it throughout the world … [other teams] usually keep their formation, but they just play different people and then it looks different. Maybe it's a higher percentage of possession with people or maybe it's less possession, but more speed. I think we can actually go either way we want, and that's good."
Quotable » Yura Movsisyan on balancing goal-scoring vs. overall results early on:
"There's two ways to look at it: I could look at it from a selfish way and say I need to score a lot of goals, but I don't think I'm at that age where I worry about my own accomplishments. I think that if … we accomplish something as a team, that'll mean a lot more to me than maybe getting a Golden Boot or stuff like that. It's about the team, and it's about the team getting results and we have gotten the results. We've done a pretty good job. I'm very happy to open up space or to keep people busy for Burrito, Plata, whoever the guys are out there. That's just the work I like to do and I like to work for it. If we get the results, that's all I care about. But I mean, yeah, I'd love to score the goals, too. It hasn't gone my way, but I'm not too bothered about it."