Real Salt Lake's 23-year-old second-year midfielder who missed most of his rookie season in 2013 due to shoulder surgery will be out at least three-to-four months after suffering a fractured tibia in Tuesday night's international friendly against Mexico's Club Tijuana.
Stertzer is expected to undergo surgery Thursday with RSL team surgeon Dr. Andrew Cooper to surgically insert a rod in Stertzer's right leg. The timetable remains three-to-four months, however according to Real Salt Lake team spokesman Trey Fitz-Gerald, a full recovery and return to action is expected.
The injury came in the 78th minute when Stertzer and Tijuana forward Paul Arriola went for a 50-50 challenge outside the 18-yard box on the south side of the pitch. Both collided and both fell to the ground, but Stertzer's reaction was immediately serious. Players from both sides signaled for further assistance seconds after the collision happened.
RSL coach Jeff Cassar called the result of the tackle unlucky, which has to be the case for the promising young University of Maryland product. He was RSL's 12th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, but after shoulder surgery stemming from an injury in a May 20 reserve match took away his 2013 campaign, Stertzer vowed to put last year behind him entering this preseason.
Then came a concussion in Casa Grande, Ariz., when he collided heads with teammate Chris Wingert that kept him out of action for some time. But Stertzer's persistence eventually paid off. As RSL's injury-woes piled up in May and June, Stertzer asserted himself in the lineup and began earning starting nods.
"At the end of the day," Stertzer said on July 18, "this was a long time coming. I think in my first year, with the injury and everything, just adjusting to the speed of play at this level, it was pretty tough."
Now he must do it all over again as RSL's midfield depth again takes a long-term hit in a friendly.
"It's tough, but that's the game. Just because it's a friendly, you don't want to go soft," said Luis Gil after last night's 1-1 draw with Xolos. "Maybe we could have prevented that, but he's a fighter, that's what he's out there for. It's just unfortunate that it happened to him."