Major League Soccer

Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach undergoes successful lower-back surgery

Chris Smith
Kreilach is a crucial attacking piece for RSL.
Kreilach is a crucial attacking piece for RSL. / Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach has undergone successful surgery on a lower back injury, the club announced Thursday.

The Croatian forward made five appearances at the start of the 2022 season - scoring once - but has been sidelined since the 6-0 defeat to NYCFC in mid-April.

An exact timeline for Kreilach's return has not yet been determined, but RSL senior director of athlete health and performance, Theron Enns, believes this procedure will provide a better 'long-term' solution for the player and promised an update on his progress in the 'coming weeks'.

“While Damir’s rehabilitation showed signs of progress, undergoing this minimally invasive procedure will give him the best opportunity for a successful long-term outcome,” Enns said in a club press release.

“A timeline for Damir’s return to the field will be determined later as his rehabilitation progresses, but typically these surgeries result in a full recovery for the athlete. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Damir works as hard off the field in rehabilitation as he does on the field, and our staff will be with him every step of the way to assist. RSL will update his progress in the coming weeks.”

In an interview with ESPN 700, RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni suggested that a three-month recovery period is 'typically the best-case scenario' for this sort of procedure.

In the short-term, Kreilach will continue to be a huge loss for Real Salt Lake. The 33-year-old has 48 goals and 18 assists to his name in 135 appearances across all competitions since joining from Union Berlin in 2018. The 2021 campaign was by far his most productive, netting 16 goals and setting up another eight to fire RSL into the MLS Cup Playoffs - where they progressed all the way to the Western Conference final.

In Kreilach's absence, RSL have turned around some poor early-season form, losing just one of their last six MLS matches since that aforementioned 6-0 thrashing at the hands of NYCFC.

Mastroeni's side sit third in the Western Conference, just four points adrift of Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC.