On the one-year anniversary of what Steve Zakuani calls the roughest day of his life, the Sounders midfielder got some more bad news.
Zakuani had hoped to play today in his first official competitive match since fracturing his right tibia and fibula in an April 22, 2011 match. However, he took himself out of a Sounders training Sunday, and soon thereafter club trainers decided he shouldn’t travel for the MLS Reserve League match today at Chivas USA.
“(Sunday marked) a year since the injury,” he said. “It definitely would (have been) special to be out there. But I have felt a little bit of pain.
“That’s how rehab goes. You go up a bit, and you plateau, and then you go up a bit. I’ve pushed a lot the last couple of weeks, and it may be a reaction to that. But it’s just bad timing.”
Sunday marked exactly one year since Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan injured Zakuani in an MLS match at Colorado. Mullan was fined and suspended a league-record 10 games.
However, Zakuani is still struggling to make it back. He marked some progress April 1 when he played in a training game against Gonzaga – his first performance against another club since the injury. He looked forward to this Chivas match as another marker of progress along the road. However, now that will have to wait.
“That’s why we don’t set time lines,” he said. “Three days ago I would have told you I’m for sure playing (today). It’s that kind of injury. It’s good progress. I’m happy. A year ago was the roughest day of my life. I’m here. I’m standing. So I’m happy. But I still think I have a lot of work to do. It was a really horrific injury. To get back to a high level is not easy, and I’m trying to do that.”
While Zakuani tries to recover physically, he said he is at peace mentally.
He said he has forgiven Mullan for the tackle, although the two did not meet or speak April 14 when the Rapids played in Seattle.
Mullan was booed every time he touched the ball. After the game he said he understood the booing, that he regretted the tackle, and that he hoped to be able to tell that to Zakuani personally.
Zakuani said he appreciated the way both Mullan and the fans conducted themselves.
“I don’t really think about it,” Zakuani said. “The only thing I’m concerned about is getting back playing. What this injury means to me now, it’s no longer what really happened, it’s just trying to get back on the pitch. That’s where my focus is really.”
The game at Chivas USA is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The Sounders Reserves, who went 8-1-1 last season, are still looking for their first win this season at 0-2-1.
“Not a huge concern,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The number one thing for us is to do well in league and to get to the playoffs and win MLS Cup this year. Last year, (the reserves had) a little bit of an older group, more veteran group, and a hungry group. The hunger I think has to be there a little bit; the hunger hasn’t always been there.
“They’ve been in every game, they’ve got to play better, and offensively they have to produce.”
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and defender Marc Burch were limited in training Sunday. Schmid said Burch had a tender hamstring and Gspurning perhaps some flu-related issues. He indicated neither is expected to be serious. ... The starters will be off today. They will reunite with the reserves Tuesday to begin work for the Saturday league match at Chicago.