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During his 15 years associated with Major League Soccer, Real Salt Lake technical director Craig Waibel said he's never seen a player as randomly snake-bitten by injury as Real Salt Lake center back Chris Schuler. On Saturday night, the 27-year-old center back was again bitten. A sudden twist and pivot in the minutes leading up to RSL's game against the Vancouver Whitecaps caused Schuler's right knee to lock up.
Following an MRI scan Monday morning, Schuler underwent successful meniscectomy in his right knee Monday evening. The procedure was performed by RSL's team physician Dr. Andrew Cooper at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. Cooper spoke to the Tribune Monday night and said Schuler's timeline to return to training is an estimated 4-to-6 weeks.
"He should do well. He's very resilient," Cooper said. "He and I have gone through many injuries through the years. He's tough and I think he'll fight through this and do very well and be playing fairly soon."
Cooper said Schuler suffered a locked meniscus tear in warm-ups Saturday night, which left his knee "kind of stuck." Cooper trimmed the meniscus out of the knee that caused the locking Monday. The MRI Monday morning confirmed what Cooper called "a bucket-handle meniscus tear."
Two presentable options come with such an injury: A full-blown repair versus trimming out the piece of meniscus that left the knee locked up. But the MRI, Cooper explained, showed that the tear was not reparable. A repair which potentially would've left Schuler out 4-to-5 months is trying to put the meniscus back where it belongs inside the knee and suturing it back together, but the location of the meniscus has poor blood flow, so an unsuccessful attempt at repair would've resulted in following surgeries.
"I think it always sounds good if you can repair something to repair it, but it comes with some challenges, technically and also sometimes they don't heal, so it's a tough call sometimes," Cooper said.
Cooper clarified that the knee injury Schuler suffered Saturday had no correlation to the knock he took at San Jose on April 5. Cooper said Schuler injured his knee cap in RSL's 1-0 win on Easter Sunday, adding that during Monday's surgery he found a way to help what has become recurring knee cap issues for the RSL defender.
The knee injury is the latest added to an expanding list of various injuries befallen Schuler during his six-year career at RSL. Last season, Schuler missed a month due to several facial fractures suffered in a collision with former RSL center back Nat Borchers in early October. He started 25 matches, logging more than 2,100 minutes played in 2014 both of which were career highs. In 2013, lingering foot issues sidelined Schuler for four months. He missed 18 matches before returning in late September that year to help key a run to the MLS Cup final.
Schuler's 2012 season was similar to 2013. A stress response the makings of a stress fracture sidelined him for three and a half months in the middle of the season as he started 12 games.
"His [injuries] all really seem to be really at random, very few of them are tied into one another," Waibel said. "It's pretty crazy. But he always seems to come back from them, so that's the good part. Unfortunately, he's got a lot to go off of in terms of knowing he's got a good chance of recovery."