SANDY — During the same week Real Salt Lake learned two of its players would need to go under the knife — Josh Saunders and Carlos Salcedo — the club got actually got some good news regarding Chris Schuler.
An MRI confirmed late last week that the stress response in the center back’s left foot had healed properly and surgery won’t be necessary.
Schuler can now begin weight-bearing work, and if all goes well he could be back to full fitness and ready for first-team selection within a month.
“We feel much more comfortable we’re not going to break that bone in the course of the rehab, but at the same time we’re going to continue to be cautious as we bring him along and do it sensibly and yet as quickly as we can,” said RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey.
Schuler missed more than four months last year, with the foot ultimately breaking during rehab from an earlier stress response injury.
RSL’s trainers were hopeful they caught the injury early enough this season that it wouldn’t evolve into a stress fracture, and it turns out they were right.
Schuler told the trainers his foot feels better now than at any point last season.
Getting back on the field will be the true test in his recovery. After starting and playing the full 90 minutes in Real Salt Lake’s first 12 games this season, Schuler has been sidelined since a 3-2 loss at Montreal on May 11.
Real Salt Lake has played 11 matches in all competitions during that stretch, and is an undefeated 9-0-2.
Lagerwey said he hopes that trend continues, forcing Schuler to work even harder to work his was back into the starting lineup.
After missing nearly five months last season and then probably more than three months this season, surgery to permanently repair the foot this offseason might be a no-brainer.
“You want to say yes to that question, but I also respect it’s Chris’ body and Chris’ decision,” said Lagerwey.
RSL’s general manager said if Schuler returns to full strength and plays great the rest of the 2013 season, he can certainly understand why Schuler might resist going under the knife.
Saunders and Salcedo weren’t so lucky.
Real Salt Lake’s backup 'keeper Saunders tore his ACL during a fluke play in the first half against Dallas on Saturday, and is done for the season.
He’s the fourth RSL player to suffer a season-ending injury. Kwame Watson-Siriboe tore his ACL in a reserve game last month, while newcomers Rich Balchan and John Stertzer both underwent shoulder surgery in May.
“It’s interesting we’re having good results with as much adversity as we’re having,” said RSL coach Jason Kreis. “I cannot remember a time where we’ve had four players with season-ending injuries. That’s insane to me. And probably we’re a bit fortunate because we carried 30 players this year, which we haven’t done for a long time; we’ve carried 26.
Fortunately for Salcedo, his addition to that adversity is a minor one. He’s become a regular in the starting lineup the past two months because of the Schuler and Watson-Siriboe injuries, but Sunday he underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder. He started to feel the pain in the Dallas match Saturday, but he should be able to resume training next week.
“It seems a little odd. It seems to be a little unlucky to be a center back on our team right now,” said Kreis.
Fortunately for Real Salt Lake, Schuler’s injury doesn’t appear to be a season-ender, and he could be back making contributions in August.