We're continuing the run-up to the MLS playoffs today with a recap of some major storylines around Real Salt Lake.
Chris Schuler's injury
A few weeks ago, Chris Schuler, a starting central defender for Real Salt Lake, sustained a fairly brutal face injury after he collided with his defensive partner, Nat Borchers. That injury resulted in fractured orbital bones and has been described as a "sinus fracture." He hasn't played a match since, missing three consecutive games since the injury on Oct. 5.
Thankfully, Schuler has been fitted for a mask and it looks like there's a chance he could make an appearance in the playoffs. He's been medically cleared to play, so sorting that out is the next priority. It's not immediately clear if he'll end up with minutes in this first match, and with young defender Carlos Salcedo playing well, the impetus to get him back is eased somewhat.
Real Salt Lake vs. LA in the playoffs
Real Salt Lake has met LA Galaxy three times in the playoffs before this match. The first time? 2009 — in the final. If you don't know much about Real Salt Lake, that match is a good place to start. RSL won the Cup on penalties, and to say it was unexpected is a bit of an understatement. You'll enjoy watching this one.
RSL also met LA Galaxy in 2011 and 2013, dropping the series in 2011 as the Galaxy went on to win the whole thing, and winning the series in a spectacular turnaround in 2013.
The second leg of the match in 2013
Mid-playoffs international break
Should Real Salt Lake makes it past the first round of playoffs, the next round won't take place until Nov. 22 — leaving nearly two weeks between matches. The playoffs are straddling an international break, and with the United States playing Colombia (Nov. 14 in London) and Republic of Ireland (Nov. 18 in Republic of Ireland), RSL might have players involved. Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, and Luis Gil have all been called into camp in the last few months, and could be involved again.
RSL's consistency and experience
Real Salt Lake has one of the most long-tenured and experienced core group of players in MLS. In a typical RSL starting eleven, the majority of the players involved from the outset have played over 150 regular season games for the club, and four of those having played over 200 regular season games. Nick Rimando (225), Tony Beltran (164), Nat Borchers (205), Chris Wingert (204), Kyle Beckerman (205), Ned Grabavoy (159) and Javier Morales (185) make up that consistent core for the club. There's no saying what RSL's roster will look like in 2015, but would another playoff exit force a shakeup in that core?