Looking at John Stertzer's 2014 leads to more questions than it does answers, the biggest of which goes something like this: Why did he have to break his leg in an exhibition match?
Stertzer, 24, played 273 minutes for the first team - a significant improvement on his also-cut-short 2013, when he played 33 minutes. He started three games and appeared in nine total, and by the time he took to injury, he was looking like the next midfielder to burst onto to the scene.
He'd just started getting regular minutes, but it took only one friendly for Stertzer to fracture his tibia in a sliding tackle against Club Tijuana. It didn't seem a particularly dangerous challenge - but the luck of the thing was horrid.
And that's really what defined John Stertzer in 2014, and it was the same thing that defined him in 2013: An injury. He was rated, in 2013, as one of the most MLS-ready players in the draft, and when Real Salt Lake picked him up, there was a hope that he'd be able to contribute relatively quickly. And he was looking set to do that before he suffered a separated shoulder in a reserves game that kept him out for the entire season.
It's not even that Stertzer is injury prone. That would be easy to deal with. This was more that he has had two vastly unlucky injuries in back-to-back seasons, and it's putting a damper on his MLS and Real Salt Lake career.
See, when he played this year, he was actually pretty good. He was involved in bright attacking moments, and he steadied the midfield well alongside Cole Grossman on a few occasions. He made great runs that nearly resulted in goals, and he had a creative bent to his passing work.
Injuries may have done him in for a second-season running, but he looks set to return for 2015. Here's hoping that he has better luck next year, because he's increasingly looked ready to play for this team.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2014 season and previewing the 2015 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.