RSL notes: Chris Schuler to make return in reserve match against Timbers
Sandy • The real action came Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
But for a couple of players, Saturday morning's reserve match between Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers will be just as critical.
RSL defender Chris Schuler has been slowly working his way back into shape after going down with a foot injury in May.
The reserve game will give Salt Lake coaches a chance to gauge Schuler's progress over 90 minutes of full-speed action.
"In an ideal world, that's exactly what reserve games are for," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "They serve a few functions but one of the most important ones is to give you a proving ground for injured players that are coming back so you don't have to just kind of believe that they're capable of playing â¦ and throw them into a first-team match."
Schuler has been training fully for about a month now, but seeing game time, even in a reserve match, will be critical.
"Soccer fitness just comes through playing," Kreis said. "So we try to take a patient approach and do all the right things by the player so we don't rush them into something and get them re-injured. It's been a methodical process, a long one.
"I'm sure Schuler is pretty sick of it. But he's really close, and I think his minutes are right around the bend."
The reserve game will also be the first chance the RSL staff will have to see Ricardo Gardner in a full match. The former Bolton Wanderer is coming off knee surgery and has been training with the team for the past month.
Sidelined by strain
Backup goalkeeper Jeff Attinella could be out for "a couple of weeks" after suffering a strained oblique.
Attinella has seen action in four games this year, recording 13 saves. With the injury, RSL's third-string goalkeeper, Lalo Fernandez, moves up the depth chart and was included in the team's 18-man roster Friday.