Congratulations to rookie defender Chris Shuler who stepped in for the suspended Jamison Olave, playing the full 90 tonight at center back as Real Salt Lake played to a scoreless draw against the Seattle Sounders on national TV as ESPN2 provided live coverage of the game.
Perhaps the most vital missing component for Thursday’s will be Jamison Olave, who will be serving a suspension for yellow-card accumulations. Olave’s unique combination of size, strength and speed is near impossible for RSL to replace, especially given the two backup candidates are third-year pro Rauwshan McKenzie and rookie Chris Schuler, neither of whom has much experience on the pitch.
From the game recap: Attacks inconsistent as Seattle, RSL go scoreless
Kreis also had to be heartened by the performance of RSL rookie Chris Schuler. The central defender performed well in place of the suspended Jamison Olave and played a big role in stymieing Seattle’s strikers.
Chris Schuler is a native of Aurora, Ill., located about an hour west of Chicago, Schuler grew up leading the same Chicago Magic youth soccer club that counts GM Garth Lagerwey and midfielder Ned Grabavoy amongst its alumnus. From there it was on to a standout career at Creighton University, the collegiate soccer factory that produced former RSL’er and current radio analyst Brian Kamler and based in Head Coach Jason Kreis’ hometown of Omaha, Neb. Judging from his performance as a captain and four-year starter with the Bluejays and the potential displayed during preseason, any calls to follow up on the 6’4” center-back were justified, as he beat out a crowded field of contenders for one of RSL’s two back-up spots in the middle.
Shuler’s father Chris is a local referee and former Kickapoo players Michael and Tyler Bennett are his first cousins. Michael played at Missouri State for two years while Tyler is in his second year at Oglethorpe in Atlanta, a D3 program. Tyler also won two Missouri State Championships as a member of the Springfield SC.