On this 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 tomorrow in his first official competitive match since fracturing his right tibia and fibula in a match on April 22, 20011. However, he cut short a training session today, and club trainers later decided he shouldn’t travel for the MLS Reserve League match Monday at Chivas USA.
“(Today marks) 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.”
Exactly one year since Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan injured Zakuani in an MLS game at Colorado. Mullan was fined and suspended a league-record 10 games.
However, Zakuani is still struggling to make it back to MLS. 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 timelines,” 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.”
Here’s some more of what Zakuani had to say today:
On what he thought about Mullan’s comments of regret after the Rapids’ April 14 trip to Seattle: I didn’t really see it. I was at the game, obviously. I think the fans handled it well. I think he handled it well, too. So, I didn’t really sit it, but people told me a couple of things: quotes and stuff. But I think he’s been fine. I never really had an issue with him. I said the first thing he said after the injury was not the best thing to say, but since then it’s been fine. I spoke to him before, I wish him the best and everything. I don’t think he’s that kind of player. I’ve played against him many times before in the past. There was not history. There’s nothing there. It was just a one-off incident. It was just a one-off incident that brought us together at that time, and so we’re tied forever because of that. But I wish him the best, and I think he handled it well that day. I can’t imagine what it was like to be coming back here and knowing what he’s face. So I think he handled it well, and the fans – I always know the fans, I have their support, and they showed it again, and they showed me that again and it means a lot to me. I just think it’s a situation now where that was the final thing. Well, the final thing will be me and him coming together face-to-face. So we’re getting close to having complete closure for everybody involved, so that’s a good thing.
On whether they spoke in person: “Our paths just never crossed, but I know he spoke to Randy – our trainer – and was really apologetic again, and I think that’s what I would expect from him if I got to speak to him. I’m never against it. I think it’s something that has to happen. It has to be a planned meeting. But I have friends on that team – Tyrone (Marshall) and these guys who talk to him – and I send messages: I said, ‘It’s fine, there’s nothing there.’ I don’t really think about it. 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.