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Seattle • As he wrapped up a training session this week, Chris Schuler was sweating and smiling but not completely satisfied.
"It's a step in the right direction," the 28-year-old center back said following his first practice after signing a contract to return to RSL. "It's not everything. I didn't conquer the world or anything like that. But for sure [I'm feeling] positivity and movement toward my goals."
Talented but too often injured, Schuler has endured a challenging 18 months to get back onto a Major League Soccer roster. Healthy again, the defender will now be looking for ways to make an impact at RSL.
"It's awesome to have him back," head coach Jeff Cassar said. "… He's going to make us better."
But Schuler might still need some time before he's able to do that on the field.
With starting center back Aaron Maund sidelined by a foot injury Sunday at Seattle, Cassar included Schuler in the team's 18-man roster but kept him on the bench in favor of starting 34-year-old Jamison Olave.
Coming of a knee surgery and a broken navicular bone in his left foot within the past year and a half, Schuler has had to prove to RSL officials that he could stay healthy while playing for the club's USL affiliate, the Real Monarchs. And Schuler, by his own admission, said he believed he might need time to reacquaint himself with his teammates' habits on the field as well as prepare himself for the faster, more talented strikers of Major League Soccer.
"It's definitely a higher level," Schuler said.
"I do think he probably has to still adjust to the speed of play, "Cassar concurred, "but he'll get back quickly."
Glimpse of the future
The future of U.S. soccer will be training in Utah this week.
The U.S. Under-17 men's national team is setting up shop in Park City this week as the squad including RSL- Arizona Academy midfielder and Eden native Taylor Booth prepares for the Torneo Naciones de Mexico later this month in Mexico City. To prepare for their upcoming matches against Portugal, Qatar and Mexico, the U-17s will play two friendlies in Utah this week. On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the team will play Utah Valley University at Trailside Park in Park City. And on Saturday at 10 a.m., they will scrimmage the Real Monarchs at American First Field in Sandy.
The Monarchs added former Liga MX midfielder Jesus Leal to their roster this week. The 23-year-old Leal played two seasons with Club America in Mexico. Earlier this month, the club signed midfielder Charlie Adams and forward Ameth Ramirez.