FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As he recovers from his first-ever hamstring injury, A.J. Soares has been thankful for the guidance of the New England Revolution’s athletic training staff.
Soares wanted to get back into training just days after straining his hamstring at Red Bull Arena on April 20, but that well-intentioned eagerness had to be subdued as he was warned of the dangers of pushing the injury too quickly and risking further damage to the muscle.
“You always want to get a little bit in that (uncomfortable) zone where you’re pushing it to get better, but if you go one little bit too hard and you re-strain it, it sets you back weeks,” said Soares. “So it’s important not to come back too soon.
“I’m antsy to get on the field and train and I’m always bugging [the staff] to let me train and get on the field, and I finally am this week. I think overall the staff’s doing a good job monitoring me and not letting me just go crazy, (because) I’d put my kit on and go out on the field and go hardcore.”
More than three weeks since suffering the injury Soares began easing back into training on Tuesday, participating in passing drills with his teammates before going through a series of sprinting exercises with strength and conditioning coach Nick Downing. The plan is to continue adding to that workload each day.
Soares admits it’s been difficult watching from the sidelines in recent weeks, but he’s stayed as involved as possible by providing motivation in the weight room and input during video sessions, while continuing to bring leadership and a positive energy to the locker room.
Head coach Jay Heaps said Soares is “in the early phases” of making a full return and still has “a little ways to go to get back,” but added his presence at training has been a welcome boost.
As Soares continues to navigate his first recovery from this type of injury, he’s doing everything he can to remain as patient as possible while at the same time pushing himself to the acceptable limit every day.
“I didn’t know what to expect and it takes a lot longer than you think,” he said. “At the time it’s painful and you’re thinking it’s going to heal quickly. Three weeks later I’m just getting out here to train.
“What they allow me to do, I’ll do to the max effort. If they let me do possession (drills), I’m going to run my butt off in possession and make sure I get everything out of it I can. I’ll try and get back in the squad as soon as possible.”