This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • A piece of Real Salt Lake's young core suffered an injury in training Wednesday's training session at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Midfielder Omar Holness, the club's No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, came down awkwardly on a challenge and stayed down in pain. The 23-year-old Jamaican national teamer pounded the grass inside RSL's home stadium in frustration before being checked out by the RSL medical staff.
Holness eventually walked off on his own accord, but with a noticeable limp. The midfielder was added to the RSL injury report Thursday with an unspecified knee injury.
Per RSL communications Wednesday, the severity of the injury had yet to be determined. After training on Thursday, RSL coach Mike Petke was asked if he and the club had since received any clarity on the injury to Holness.
"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."
Holness started four matches for RSL in 2017, including three regular-season matches as well as the 2017 U.S. Open Cup loss at Sacramento Republic FC on June 14. He recently netted his first goal with RSL in a 6-2 loss at FC Dallas on June 3. The 6-foot-tall rangy midfielder was a regular with the Jamaican youth national teams before being first summoned for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster by Jamaican's national team.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel entered his second year in MLS with high hopes after a trying first year in the league. Holness suffered a seizure in his professional debut with Real Monarchs last March, but returned by June to make his MLS debut also a loss at FC Dallas. Holness made three starts and nine appearances during his rookie year.
During preseason in Portland, Holness expounded upon his goals for 2017.
"To score some goals, get some minutes and beat the number of appearances I had last year," he said. "Quite modest, but you have to start somewhere. It's about managing expectations."
» Rusnák's availability up in the air
RSL's attacking midfielder Albert Rusnák was scheduled to return to Salt Lake City Thursday after four weeks abroad with the Slovakian national team and the Slovakian U-21 national team.
The 22-year-old, who has three goals and five assists in 2017 with RSL, played a role in Slovakia's 2-1 UEFA World Cup qualifying win at Lithuania earlier this month before earning a starting role with Slovakia's U-21s at the European U-21 championships. Rusnák registered an assist in a 2-1 loss to England in group play.
Does Petke anticipate Rusnák being available against Orlando City?
"I anticipate Albert being in Salt Lake today," he said. "And then we're going to make a judgement on him."
When asked what goes into determining whether or not a player is physically able to play after long flights, Petke said, "A conversation. There's no test, there's no science to it. 'Are you tired? How long have you traveled? And see where their mindset is. And from there, we make a decision."
» Outside backs on the mend
Both of RSL's starting outside backs, Tony Beltran (back) and Demar Phillips (hamstring), returned to their first full day of training this week Thursday. Phillips has been out since May 13 when he suffered the hamstring injury at the New England Revolution. The 33-year-old Jamaican defender played with the Real Monarchs in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Phoenix.
Beltran missed last weekend's 2-1 loss at San Jose after returning from back and calf injuries that forced him to miss two months of the season.
"At this point, I'm still not sure," Petke said of their availability. "Today was their first day back, so day before a game first full day back, again conversations and just looking at what we have available and what way we want to go."