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Zakuani plays half of reserve game: “Still a long way to go … but I’m very happy”

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on April 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm with No Comments »
April 1, 2012 2:41 pm

Sounders FC played a reserve game at Starfire this mroning, beating Gonzaga 4-0 behind goals from Alex Caskey, Eddie Johnson, Cordell Cato and a non-roster player.

There was some good news from Johnson, who said he hopes to be on the 18-man roster at D.C. United on Saturday.

However, the best news might have come from a full-first-half of play by Steve Zakuani, in his first outside competition since last April 22, when he suffered leg breaks in the match against Colorado.

Here’s some of what Zakuani had to say afterward:

On playing a full half:
(Last week) Sigi asked if I wanted to play 20 minutes. I said I’ll just do what I can at a high level – do the best I can. … I figured why not? It’s not an official reserve game, it’s against a college team – with all due respect. So I thought it would be good. So I planned to go 20 minutes, but I think my first 10 was a bit apprehensive, because that was the first time in a year I had been playing. From Minute 10 to Minute 30-35, I was good. And then I got tired. So it was a good step forward. Now I’m going to kind of see how I can build on this.

On if he was told when 20 minutes was up: That was the agreement, but they kind of forgot. So I just kept playing. I think the first 10 I was just getting back into it because that was my first time in a real game against actual opposition since Colorado a year ago. I kept going. I asked them at home point how long I is it going? They said 18 minutes, and I felt pretty good, and I knew then I could probably go the whole half. I ended up having 20-25 really good minutes, and then I got tired toward the end. … What I’ll do now is I’ll see what’s still missing, if it’s a little bit more speed of turning direction, we’ll just figure out what’s left.

On absorbing the first tackle: It was OK because I’ve been getting that in training. I’m not really worried about that. I’ve had tackled coming in in training. I havent’ had a really strong one – I don’t know how that will be – but that feels fine. The things I was more concerned with was making sure how my touches were, my position awareness, you know things I haven’t been able to do for a very long time. I still know how to play. I still have the same brain I had before. It’s just a matter of letting my body catch up to where my mind is. I think it’s starting to do that, I think it’s probably the perfect game to try to come and play. We had some good players on the pitch as well, with a lot of professional experience, so it was easier for me in that sense.

What’s next? Go home and sleep. … We used those monitors and Dave Tenney is going to go look at that. He’ll talk to Sigi and they’ll talk to me, kind of see my pattern of running, see how good my recovery was, how high of sprinting I had reached and that kind of stuff. We’ll look at that and build a program towards it. I think I’m really now pushing toward those final stages. I’ve played in MLS for two years and a bit; I’m under no illusions at the level that it is to be able to get back there. This is good, but still I’m going to keep it in perspective and realistic that there’s still a long way to go in terms of being ready to play an actual game. But it’s a good step forward. April 22nd was the injury, so it really is almost exactly one year. So it’s definitely a good step forward. I’ve been waiting for this day a very long time, and I’m happy. We’ll see what’s left. I’m sure they’ll have their things they want me to work on; but for me, I’m very happy.

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