DENVER – When Kevin Alston took an indefinite leave of absence from the New England Revolution in early April following his chronic myelogenous leukemia diagnosis, it was noted in the club’s press release that he expected to return to the team “in the future.”
Welcome to the future.
Just three months after beginning treatment, Alston has been medically cleared to return to full activity and on Monday was removed from the Disabled List, making him eligible for selection for the first time since March 30. Alston is part of the Revolution’s travel party for the current two-game road trip through Colorado and Columbus.
“It’s a pretty amazing story,” said Jay Heaps. “When I think of Kevin, I think of what amazing strength it [takes] to stay focused through this.”
Above all Heaps is thrilled Alston is healthy, but the Revolution’s head coach is also pretty excited to have his speedy left back available for selection once again, particularly as the Revs press on through the grueling summer months with a playoff push on the mind.
“From a soccer perspective, we don’t really have time to stop,” said Heaps. “We’re in a position where he’s joining us because he’s going to help us, not because it completes a great story. It is a great story and I love that component of it, but for me, when I look at it black and white, we need him on the field going through the second half of the season.”
Although he wasn’t removed from the Disabled List until Monday, Alston has been gradually easing his way back into training for the past few weeks, giving him time to build his strength and stamina. From a pure fitness standpoint, he’s not far off from top form.
Of course, three months away from game action means there will be a bit of rust, but shaking off the cobwebs is a minor hurdle in comparison to the battle Alston has waged against leukemia.
“He’s one of the fittest guys on the team in terms of fitness when you do the numbers and all the tests, which is one thing, but now we’ve got to get him soccer fit, which is a whole other level of fitness,” said Heaps. “We hope we can use him in the right way.”