Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Real Salt Lake defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe (3) and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens (26) fight for the ball during MLS action in Sandy Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Real Salt Lake’s defensive depth took a major hit this week.

Kwame Watson-Siriboe underwent surgery to repair a torn right ACL on Thursday, an injury suffered in last Sunday’s reserve game at Phoenix FC. The injury occurred in the opening 10 minutes.

RSL orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Cooper repaired the torn and ruptured ACL and torn meniscus during Thursday’s surgery. Watson-Siriboe will miss 6 to 8 months, and if his recovery goes smoothly he should be back to full strength for the start of the 2014 season.

Watson-Siriboe had made seven starts this season, including four straight to open the year, while veteran Nat Borchers recovered from offseason surgery of his own.

The timing of the injury is certainly frustrating for Real Salt Lake with fellow center back Chris Schuler also still recovering from an injury. After starting the first 12 matches of the season, Schuler has missed four straight with a foot injury.

“I think this next stretch is really going to test our depth with the injuries we’ve had at the back and Gold Cup coming up. I think we’re going to have to rely on a lot of younger guys to step in,” said Borchers.

Without Watson-Siriboe and Schuler, Real Salt Lake will be forced to lean heavily on two relatively unproven players in Carlos Salcedo and Aaron Maund at center back.

Salcedo, 19, has made just three starts in MLS play this season, while Maund’s only appearance this season was in last week’s U.S. Open Cup match against Charleston.

“You start to get a little bit thinner in the back and those things add up. Carlos and Aaron are going to have to step in, and they’ve shown the past few games that they’ve played that they can do the job as well,” said RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy.

Salcedo figures to get the bulk of the starts until Schuler returns to full strength, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When Salcedo starts, RSL is 3-0 this season in league play and 1-0 in U.S. Open Cup play.

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With no timetable set for Schuler’s return — he missed four months last season with a foot injury — Salcedo could be a regular fixture in the starting line-up for Real Salt Lake during the second half of the season.

He’s excited for the opportunity, but won’t change his approach.

“I haven’t lost a game, so I want to keep that rhythm,” said Salcedo. “Just keep humble, the same mentality to work hard no matter what situation we’re in. I think that’s the most important thing. Soccer is going to come when you work hard.”

RSL continues its lengthy homestand this Saturday when it hosts the Seattle Sounders.