This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • The moment Real Salt Lake and its fan base dreaded came in the 42nd minute Friday night when a clearly uncomfortable Yura Movsisyan tried his best to stretch out a muscle tweak that just wouldn't go away.
The 28-year-old Designated Player tried to jog through it. While working it out, the ball even came to him on an RSL counter, before the team's leading scorer just had to lay it off to teammate Burrito Martinez before signaling to the RSL bench that he could no longer go.
"He's been a force for us this year," right back Tony Beltran said.
If the team's continued lack of finishing touch didn't cause immediate concern, the left hip flexor strain Movsisyan suffered in the 1-1 home draw with the San Jose Earthquakes is certainly making RSL sweat. The forward corps, already slimmed down due to injury and recent roster moves, could be down to just three pure forwards heading into August.
"I'll talk to the doctors and the trainers and Yura to figure it out," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said. "But yes, it is very concerning especially with this three-game stretch and we don't want to get thin anywhere. Yura is a big part of this team."
He may not say it, but Cassar knows his group of strikers is too svelte for anyone's liking.
On the same day RSL made its first addition in this summer transfer window by acquiring 19-year-old Paraguayan striker Pedro Báez on a six-month loan, the team saw its most consistent scoring threat go down. Now comes the waiting game. RSL forward Joao Plata suffered a hip flexor strain earlier this season and missed two weeks before returning.
RSL failed to capitalize on its string of home matches in June and July, going 1-0-5. Out of a possible 18 points there for the taking, RSL grabbed eight. In its four-straight home draws, RSL managed just three goals. The red carpet schedule that was June and July ends disappointingly. This is where it starts to even itself out once again. RSL next hits the road for two testing road matches: At Philadelphia on July 31 and at Toronto FC on Aug. 3.
"I hope that at the end of the year, we're not looking back on this and saying what could have been," Beltran said.
If Movsisyan, who started 19 of RSL's first 21 matches in 2016, can't go, the center forward minutes in this 4-3-3 formation falls on Olmes Garcia. The 23-year-old Colombian has just two goals in his last 17 league starts dating back to 2015. Garcia hasn't scored a goal since June 27, 2015.
"Obviously there becomes more pressure to perform," Cassar said. "Not to just put in a good work rate, but to also finish the opportunities that you get. I'm not going to try and put pressure on Olmes to score, we just want to put him in the positions to do that."