FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Chris Tierney is set to provide a measure of relief to the New England Revolution’s depleted backline ahead of this weekend’s home finale against the Chicago Fire.
Tierney has been sidelined for the past month after suffering a left knee sprain the day before a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Sept. 15. The severity of the injury had the potential to end his season, but Tierney’s diligent workout regimen put him on the fast track to recovery and the left back has since returned to full training.
“I worked really hard with (head athletic trainer) Sean Kupiec, who did a great job of getting me ready ahead of schedule,” said Tierney. “It feels good. I just need a little time to get my fitness and my timing back, but I’m happy to be back in the mix.”
A delicate balance of urgency and precaution was necessary in the recovery process. A competitive professional athlete, Tierney wanted to return to the field as quickly as possible, particularly as he’s watched the Revs struggle to a 0-3-1 record since the injury. But with the playoffs out of reach, Tierney also knew that pushing for the sake of haste was an unnecessary risk.
“You’ve got to play it smart,” he said. “You obviously don’t want to rush back and do much more damage that could potentially put me out for the offseason and beyond. I think we’ve done a good job managing it, knowing what the injury is and just being smart about taking it step by step.”
No one will be happier to have Tierney back in the fold than head coach Jay Heaps, who’s seen his backline dealt a rash of injuries in recent weeks. Flo Lechner (R MCL sprain), Stephen McCarthy (concussive like symptoms) and Tyler Polak (R foot sprain) are all currently sidelined, while A.J. Soares (R knee sprain) was forced off in the second half of the Revolution’s last match in Philadelphia on Oct. 6.
Both Soares and Tierney are back in training – the duo was listed as questionable on Tuesday’s injury report – and both will hope to be available on Saturday night against Chicago. If that’s the case, the Revs should be able to avoid a repeat of the situation at PPL Park, where midfielders Ryan Guy and Alec Purdie finished the match playing center back and right back, respectively.
“There are a lot of guys who’ve been asked to do jobs that they’re not comfortable with and that’s part of being a pro,” said Tierney. “But you see the team struggling for results at the moment and you always want to be a part of it. It’s tough to watch, especially when the team’s not doing well. I want to be back and offer my services in any way I can help the team.”