John Stertzer was somewhat lucky to find minutes early for Real Salt Lake in his rookie career.
Strong performances in training sessions, mixed with a preponderance of injuries and absences early on, saw the first-round draft pick make two substitute appearances, both of them in losses - first to DC United, then to Dallas. They were surely never matches that you would expect him to be a difference-maker in, and there was something a little unfair about that.
But he soldiered on until his shoulder was dislocated in a reserves match in late May, which saw him ruled out for essentially all of the season. It was certainly a blow for the talented midfielder, who would have been useful during the mid-summer fray in which we saw plenty of players missing through injury and international absence.
2014 should see Stertzer again fighting for minutes, but against a less crowded midfield. He'll be a better player than he was a year ago, certainly, but he does have much to prove now. He'll undoubtedly want to play, but this preseason, it'll be up to him to prove that he's ready. There will be opportunities.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.