KENNESAW, Ga. – French midfielder Ousmane Dabo had a limited window to adjust to his new surroundings upon joining the New England Revolution’s preseason camp just three weeks before the season opener.
That window became significantly smaller when Dabo suffered a strained right quad in just his second day of training with the Revs on March 1. The injury has prevented Dabo from training since, and will rule him out for the Revolution’s opening game against the LA Galaxy on March 20, according to head coach Steve Nicol.
“We were playing [11-v-11] at the end of training and when I took a shot, I felt a pain in my quad,” Dabo recalled from the team hotel in Kennesaw, Ga., where the Revolution is nearing the end of its preseason preparations. “I was very disappointed.”
Dabo bemoans the unfortunate timing of the injury, which has halted his progression as he aims to form an on-field understanding with his new teammates and regain his sharpness following an extended layoff between first-team appearances.
“I really want to play with the guys, get my place in the team and compete to get my place,” Dabo said. “It’s very frustrating.”
One area which doesn’t concern Dabo or Nicol is the defensive midfielder’s fitness level upon his return, primarily because Dabo’s position and style of play don’t require him to cover the entire field.
“It’s not a case of needing too much fitness,” said Nicol. “Once we get him [healthy], he’s good to go. He’s not going to be chasing people for 90 minutes. He’s here to pass the ball and play football, so as far as fitness is concerned it shouldn’t be a real issue.”
“If I play a few games, I’ll get my fitness back anyway,” added Dabo. “I’m not very worried.”
When Dabo does return to the field, he won’t be afforded the luxury of easing into the lineup in preseason exhibition matches. The Revs will close out their preseason schedule on Sunday afternoon against the Houston Dynamo before returning to New England to make final preparations ahead of next weekend’s season opener at The Home Depot Center.
Although it’s not yet clear when Dabo will return – he’s “getting better every day,” according to Nicol – it has been confirmed his debut won’t arrive until sometime after the opener against the Galaxy.
“It’s a little difficult, but at least I’ll go straight into the competition,” said Dabo of missing out on the Revolution’s preseason matches. “I have no problem with it.”
Dabo’s extensive experience with European clubs like Lazio (Italy) and Manchester City (England) will serve him well in that sense as he makes the jump straight into league action, while his veteran insight has already been useful as he makes a measured recovery from his quad strain.
“It’s not a big, big injury, so I have to be patient,” said Dabo. “I have to be careful not to [come] back too early, but I hope I will be back soon.”