Sandy • Real Salt Lake Chris Schuler has trained fully for a week and a half now, after being held out since May with a foot injury.
But as the center back works his way toward full fitness, he'll face a serious challenge regaining his place in the starting lineup.
"It's going to be a battle for sure," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.
Schuler could be back in contention for playing time in another week or two, his coach said. But the impressive play of 19-year-old center back Carlos Salcedo will undoubtedly pose an obstacle.
Salcedo himself missed time after having his gall bladder removed last month, but with his reinsertion in the Salt Lake starting lineup Wednesday, RSL held off a very good Portland team to advance to the Open Cup finals.
"I thought that our three back guys and [Nat] Borchers really played well tonight," Kreis said after the win." I also think that [Salcedo] is starting to show how important he can be he's out for a few matches, we struggled, and he comes back in and we get another win."
RSL is 4-0-2 when Salcedo and Borchers pair together in league play.
"He's a very good soccer player," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said of Salcedo. "Technically he's maybe the best back we have on the ball."