TUCSON, Ariz. – With more than half their first-choice starting lineup hobbled by various injuries this preseason, Real Salt Lake could use some good news.
And they may get it in center back Nat Borchers, who could make his return from a ruptured quadriceps tendon sooner than expected – perhaps even in a cameo appearance during Saturday’s third-place match vs. New York in the Desert Diamond Cup (8 pm ET, streamed live on MLSsoccer.com).
Borchers returned to full training with RSL on Monday, two weeks ahead of schedule, but with restrictions placed on his time participation.
“Mentally, I’m ready,” Borchers told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “There’s just a few things I want to get right before I move forward, a few strengthening things because I want to make sure this thing is healing right.”
The 30-year-old suffered the injury during the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Seattle last October and underwent surgery during the offseason with an original targeted return date of April 1.
Borchers’ absence from the training pitch for much of the preseason coincided with injuries to Javier Morales, Jámison Olave, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson and Álvaro Saborío, a major headache for head coach Jason Kreis.
His advanced recovery has been a lift for the whole team, according to Kreis, but RSL will remain cautious in re-deploying the Tucson-born defender.
“There are indications that our conservative approach should continue,” the coach said in a club statement to MLSsoccer.com. “It's a long season, with potentially 50 games across all competitions, so we can afford to make sure he is 100 percent before we throw him back into the fire."