Tip Sheet: Álvaro Saborío injury highlights World Cup risk for MLS sides
The news of a key injury in San José on Thursday dealt a blow to both Costa Rica and Real Salt Lake. Veteran striker Álvaro Saborío will miss the next 3-4 months after sustaining a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot during a training session with the Ticos on Thursday morning.
As one might expect from such an unexpected development, the fallout extends well beyond the evident and immediate concerns and the heartbreak for Saborío after missing out on a chance to feature at the World Cup.
In the short term, it is a crushing development for a Ticos side without a natural replacement to assume his duties and a rather inconsequential setback for RSL. Saborío stood to miss the next several weeks for the Claret-and-Cobalt anyways. His injury merely changes the reason why RSL must cope without him during his spell away during the World Cup.
The landscape changes significantly from a wider lens, though. Saborío’s injury does not align with the scope of his projected duties in Brazil. It will cover a longer period, force him to miss several additional MLS matches and require a fair bit of attention from RSL’s perspective. The prospect of recovering from a metatarsal injury poses all sorts of complications. Unlike the temporary loan to the national side, the new reality lacks the sort of definition clubs crave.
And the dearth of dominion in these circumstances underscores the tenuous position of MLS sides as they watch the World Cup. They are ultimately powerless in this situation, though injuries can and do occur at any point in time. They must wait and hope their players return in working order at the end of their travails in Brazil. They must also ponder the potential consequences in case they do not.
Like it or not, the external commitments and their repercussions can influence the success or failures on the domestic fronts. A good World Cup can fill a player with confidence or prompt an offer from overseas. A poor tournament might impair the efforts or spark the desire to react upon return. And an inert spell on the bench can dull the sharpness acquired and provide some much needed rest ahead of the second half of the campaign.
All of those concerns further complicate the next few weeks as clubs monitor their stars. It is a waiting game now. Some clubs will emerged unscathed. Others – like RSL – must grapple with the consequences as they progress onwards with their campaigns.
Five Points – Week 13
1. Saborío’s potential replacement likely won’t come from Columbus: Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto named Crew striker Jairo Arrieta as a standby player when he selected his 26-man preliminary roster. Pinto isn’t expected to take that option just yet, though. Arrieta trained with his teammates in Columbus on Friday morning ahead of Saturday’s trip to Toronto.
2. Is this edition of the Trillium Cup a game Toronto FC must win?: Columbus will travel to BMO Field without suspended protagonist Federico Higuaín. TFC will welcome Jackson and Jonathan Osorio back to the squad, Reds boss Ryan Nelsen told reporters on Friday. MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke dubbed the match “absolutely critical” and rendered his verdict on the favorable landscape after the 1-1 draw with Montréal in the first leg of the Canadian Championship in midweek.
“Saturday, to me, is a (league) game we have to win, especially with Columbus missing (Federico Higuaín),” Leiweke told the Toronto Sun.
3. Can Montréal carry through its second-half revival act at BMO Field: For the first time in a while, the Impact displayed signs of life. This beleaguered group must find a way to sustain the goodwill created by their uptick after the break when New England visits on Saturday. It might prove the only way that this tattered back four can withstand the expected onslaught from a Revs side with five straight victories.
4. Expect some intrigue in the top-of-the-table clash at CenturyLink Field: Real Salt Lake visits Seattle in a meeting of the top two sides out West. Seattle’s best bet – particularly with Djimi Traore (adductor tear) sidelined and DeAndre Yedlin away on U.S. national team duty – involves opening up the game and pushing the tempo. RSL may find it difficult to engage in that sort of expansive, back-and-forth game with Saborío injured and Joao Plata rated as doubtful after sustaining a hamstring injury in the 0-0 draw with FC Dallas last Saturday.
5. Will Houston find any relief this weekend?: Dynamo boss Dominic Kinnear isn’t one to carp about his plight, but he hasn’t named a full, 18-man squad in any of the past four matches. The situation isn’t expected to improve much, if at all, ahead of the trip to Colorado on Sunday. And the prospect of playing at altitude in Commerce City against the active Rapids won’t help matters much, either.