Real Salt Lake’s 13 goals through eight games provides the third-best total in Major League Soccer, and the club has been doing it without World Cup veteran forward Robbie Findley.
The 28-year-old scored six goals last season after returning from Nottingham Forest, but was hurt in the 112th minute of the MLS Cup final against Sporting KC. What followed the injury hurt in the short- and long-term: RSL lost the championship in penalty kicks and Findley needed surgery to repair a torn patella tendon.
He has been “on the shelf” since December and still isn’t quite ready for a return.
At one point, the speedy forward – who had two goals and an assist in the 2013 playoffs – was projected to return in April. But he started training with the team last week, which is great news for RSL coach Jeff Cassar, the longtime assistant who hasn’t been able to put Findley in the starting lineup – or even in the 18 – since he became the head coach this season.
“He’s not quite up to getting banged on yet and getting that contact,” Cassar told reporters. “That was a pretty severe injury. Part of it is building that confidence back as much as it is the muscles. You’ve got to work with him physically, mentally and bring it all together.”
Findley is playing only offense during training. He said there’s no more pain in his knee, but “deceleration, changing direction and all that stuff is where I need to get used to doing it again,” he said. “And that’s what I’m doing. It’s getting better each week. I’m headed in the right direction.”
There’s no timetable for his return. Findley’s in his second stint with RSL, after his World Cup participation earned him increased attention from European clubs. The 33 goals in 107 appearances for RSL in stint No. 1 didn’t hurt, either.
His return to join Alvaro Saborio (4 goals, 22 shots) and Joao Plata (3 goals, 2 assists) would certainly boost the third-place Western Conference side in search of a return to the MLS Cup final.