Javier Morales improving, Nick Rimando fine ahead of Real Salt Lake’s Saturday visit from LA Galaxy

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When you consider Real Salt Lake were without Javier Morales and Chris Schuler Saturday in Santa Clara, the point they took from the Earthquakes looks like an even better result. Of course, the Western Conference champions were up two at half-time, meaning their eventual 3-3 draw could be seen as points lost. Against a team that’s now won 20 straight at Buck Shaw, however, a slightly short-handed RSL should be content with its result.

This weekend, however, Jeff Cassar’s team will expect full points when the LA Galaxy visit Rio Tinto (4:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN), a game that should see Morales back at full strength. After sitting out Saturday’s game with back problems, the Argentine creator has declared himself fit. The rest is up to Cassar.

“I’m feeling good and I’ll be ready, so you’ll have to ask the coach,” Morales joked on Thursday, speaking to the Salt Lake media assembled after practice (as reported by Chris Kamrani). The 34-year-old midfielder played 78 minutes in RSL’s season-opening win at LA before being left out of Cassar’s 18 in San Jose.

Schuler has yet to make RSL’s bench this season, with the nominal first choice center back still recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Though Cassar said the 26-year-old is “getting healthier everyday,” all indications are he’ll join Sebastian Velazquez (hamstring) out of the team this week. Aaron Maund, however, the defender who has slid into Schuler’s spot along side Nat Borchers, looks set to resume his place in the starting XI as he recovers from a recent knock.

RSL’s other major fitness concern, a potential back injury to Nick Rimando, turned out to be no concern at all. The U.S. international appeared to tweak his lower back while making that remarkable reflex save on Chris Wondolowski last weekend. According to the veteran keeper, the soreness he expected to experience Sunday morning never materialized. Per Kamrani’s timeline, Rimando “felt great” the day after RSL’s draw at Buck Shaw.

It leaves Real Salt Lake as healthy as they could have expected ahead of Saturday’s game. Velasquez was always a long shot, while Schuler’s progress is being managed with care. With Morales, Rimando, and Maund apparently fine, Cassar has close to his full team available for their rematch with LA.

Pique says Neymar “does not know what to do”

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has spoken out about the Neymar saga, stating that he and his fellow teammates are trying to lend their comrade a hand as he looks to sort out his future between Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking ahead of the El Clasico preseason match in Miami, Pique told reporters, “Neymar and I we are very close and I want him to stay and I know the situation. Right now he doesn’t know what to do and we are trying to help him, the ones [on the team] that are more close to him to take the right decision.”

[ MORE: Miazga loaned back to Vitesse ]

Pique was the source of intrigue a five days ago when he posted a Tweet with picture of himself and Neymar and the caption “He stays.” The defender was forced to clarify later saying that his post was only a hopeful prediction of the future rather than a bit of breaking news.

“It depends on what he wants,” Pique said at the pre-match press conference. “He can be in all the clubs in all the world. He can be in Paris, Barcelona, Chelsea or City. All the clubs will want him. It’s about your priorities. What do you want? Do you want more money? Do you want to win titles?”

Then, Pique used his knowledge of American sports to make a comparison, perhaps indirectly referencing Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. “It’s happening here and it’s happening in the NBA as well. There are some players that are not earning all the money that they deserve to win titles. So sometimes you have to take decisions in life and it’s all about priorities.”

Meanwhile, club captain Iniesta was also asked about Neymar, and he said he just wants a decision soon. “We [as players] just want peace which will benefit everyone – the players, the club and everything surrounding it.”

Former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol also spoke out about Neymar’s situation, telling Spanish publication Marca that he thinks Neymar should make his decision soon to erase the uncertainty.

Cheers! Czech soccer club shapes dugouts like beer cans

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PRAGUE (AP) Czech club Viktoria Plzen has come up with innovative beer-can shaped dugouts that truly represent the city.

The club from Plzen, or Pilsen in English, is known as the Czech capital of beer which gave the world the golden “pilsner” lager in 1842.

This week, it unveiled the new dugouts at its Doosan Arena that look exactly like beer cans.

Plzen manager general Adolf Sadek said it was a joint idea from the club and the nearby Gambrinus brewery.

“Such dugouts are unique and I daresay no other club has them,” Sadek said.

Added Gambrinus brewer Zdenek Polak, “Beer and football belong to each other.”

Players welcomed the novelty, particularly with leather heated seats.

The dugouts will first be tested in Viktoria’s season opener against Dukla Prague on Saturday.

Report: USMNT’s Paul Arriola attracting MLS, European interest

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Several U.S. Men’s National Team players made strong impressions on Bruce Arena and Co. at this month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup — which resulted in a Stars and Stripes title.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push to top in latest MLS Power Rankings ]

One of those players is Club Tijuana attacker Paul Arriola, whose performance for the USMNT and in Mexico have drawn him significant interest from MLS, Portugal and the Netherlands, according to Goal USA.

The report from Goal states that a “half dozen” sides in MLS have shown interest in Arriola, including Real Salt Lake.

Arriola, 22, has played for Xolos in Liga MX since 2013 after finishing up his academy career with the LA Galaxy.

The Galaxy would hold the rights to Arriola if he were to join MLS due to a Homegrown claim, despite the forward only spending one season with the club’s academy from 2012 to 2013.

Chanot, Wallace among missing for NYCFC’s clash at Toronto

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Patrick Vieira’s men have been flying high as of late, but New York City FC’s difficult schedule continues over the weekend north of the border.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push towards top of PST MLS Power Rankings ]

NYCFC will take on Toronto FC on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, but the third-place side in the Eastern Conference will have to do so without six first-team players.

[ MORE: MLS Week 22 preview — Sigi makes LA debut against Sounders ]

A number of injuries will keep out regulars like center back Maxime Chanot, winger Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita, while Miguel Camargo, Khiry Shelton and 16-year-old midfielder/defender James Sands are also sidelined ahead of the Toronto clash.

Wallace and Camargo each sustained injuries during the CONCACAF Gold Cup while on duty with Costa Rica and Panama, respectively.

The two sides settled for a 2-2 draw when they last met on July 19 at Yankee Stadium, but an NYCFC victory could mean a strong push for Vieira and Co. towards the top of the East.

As the table stands, NYCFC currently sits just three points Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference through 21 matches, while the Chicago Fire are lumped in between the two clubs on 38 points.

Meanwhile, TFC will continue to deal with a couple injuries of its own as Steven Beitashour and Benoit Cheyrou remain out with abdominal and calf ailments, respectively.