“I’m back and I’m in it” | Bye excited to return to starting lineup after injury

7_3_24 Brandon Bye vs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After a few substitute appearances to work his way back into the lineup, defender Brandon Bye made his first start in almost a year this past Saturday night against Seattle Sounders FC, marking a major milestone in his recovery from an ACL injury last season and boosting the Revolution’s depth chart at a time when injuries and fatigue have taken a major toll on the squad.

Now that he has returned to playing, Bye shared that his recovery had been taxing not only physically but also emotionally. However, he is coming out feeling all the stronger for it, and said he was still able to grow, push himself, and keep integrated with the team throughout his year away from the pitch.

“I think it was important for me to, not take a step away from the game, but in a way take a step away and worry about myself,” Bye said ahead of New England’s trip to Seattle. “Over the offseason and then into preseason, there was a lot of time spent in the weight room getting stronger and a lot of those days I didn’t see the field. I wasn’t on the field until like four or five months in, and those were tough days. I think [Rehabilitation Coordinator] Matt Kirkpatrick, someone that has been with the training staff and with me since the beginning, we worked countless days and countless hours in the weight room and on the treadmill getting myself back. So, I’ve got to give a shoutout to him because he was a big support system for me through the process. A lot of long days in preseason where we’re in sunny Florida and I don’t see the outside, so a lot of those long days he was there for me.

“But yeah, I think my mindset when the season started, obviously, was to be as part of the team as possible – watching games, sitting in film sessions, being as much a part of the team as I can while obviously not suiting up on the weekend. Being in those team meetings and understanding the philosophy of the new staff and not only what exactly they want out of their outside backs but what exactly they want out of their team, in order for me to jump right back in and catch it running to try to step back in as seamlessly as possible.”

Bye’s injury came at a time of transition for the team, and these first few games of his season have also been his first under head coach Caleb Porter, who said earlier in the week that he was glad to be getting such a talented player back, but that the defender would have to win his place back from Nick Lima in the wake of the latter’s strong performances.

“[Bye] is very experienced,” Porter said ahead of New England’s faceoff with Columbus. “Similar to DeJuan [Jones], he’s a perfect profile for what I look for in my outside backs. He’s box-to-box, very athletic, and has a lot of range to get forward into the attack and also defend in the channel one-versus-one. But Nick has been doing very well, so I told Brandon this: he has to come in and win his job back.”

A busy week meant that Saturday’s road game was primed for plenty of rotation, but the 61-minute appearance for Bye was a strong show of confidence in both his recovery and his place in the depth chart. For his own part, the Michigan native was just excited to be back in the lineup and able to help his teammates the best way he knew how.

“I think we always knew that this was around my return-to-play time,” Bye said of his recovery timeline. “The trainers and everybody had talked to me about mid-summer or something like that to come back. I felt that through my recovery, from preseason basically on, that this is what we’re shooting for – June or July. I knew that there was going to be a portion of the season left, half the season or whatever it is, so I kind of lived with that. Obviously, I was sad I couldn’t get on the field earlier, but I realized that I was going to have games left to make my mark on the season. It’s exciting. There are a lot of games, obviously, and a lot of games coming up quick, and we have Leagues Cup too, so I’m excited to get back out there and build my fitness up to be able to play 90 minutes.”

Last month’s win in Cincinnati marked Bye’s first return to action this season, an appearance from the bench to help see out the team’s 2-1 win over the Orange and Blue. Tagging in for none other than captain Carles Gil marked a critical moment, one that he and many others had been eagerly anticipating, but he said it was a moment that did not quite sink in right away.

“I was locked into what was happening in the game,” he said. “But also, I think there were a couple injuries and stuff like that where there were some stoppages in play, and that’s when you take a breath, you look around, and you realize, ‘Okay, I’m back and I’m in it,’ and that’s when everything kind of hits you.”

Going forward, it may still take some time before Bye is playing a full 90 minutes week in and week out. The defender will be listening to his body as he continues to build fitness, but he said his body was feeling good ahead of his first start.

“I wouldn’t put a percentage on it, but I feel good,” he said. “Obviously, I wouldn’t put myself out there if I was feeling anything less. I think for me, it’s the building fitness. I’m not 90 minutes fit yet but I think the coaches, the performance staff, and the training staff are doing a good job leading me back in that direction. I have to obviously work to get back to 90 minutes fit, but I feel good.”