Alain Rochat is close to returning from an MCL sprain suffered in late March. The Swiss-Canadian fullback aims to return against FC Edmonton next Wednesday.
BURNABY, B.C. – Alain Rochat is close to making his return from an MCL sprain in his left knee, but this weekend appears to be too soon for the Vancouver Whitecaps fullback.
The Swiss-Canadian went through his first full training session since that injury at Burnaby Lake field on Wednesday, and is just grateful he didn’t have to go through surgery, describing it as “the best of knee injuries.”
The problem occurred during Vancouver’s 0-0 draw with D.C. United on March 24, forcing him to withdraw 57 minutes in, and he hasn’t played since.
“The [medical staff] says it’s good,” Rochat told Goal.com on Wednesday after training. “But it takes time and you have to be very, very patient. If you want to go too fast, you can get in trouble – so I don’t want to.”
The 29-year-old feels Saturday’s away match against the Columbus Crew would be an unnecessary risk, but said he’s targeting next Wednesday’s Canadian Championship match against FC Edmonton to make his return.
“I’d like to take one more week instead of trying to force it and then be out for many weeks again,” Rochat said. “It’s a long season.”
Still, long season or not, Rochat is itching to get back in action and help his side – and the team has missed him. In the three matches the fullback has played this season, Vancouver didn’t concede a single goal.
Since he’s been out, they’ve conceded six goals in four matches, with all of those goals coming in two defensively-suspect defeats.
“The emotions – going into a game, feeling the pressure with the guys – you feel really bad in the stands,” Rochat said, speaking of what he has missed most during his enforced absence. “You can’t do anything, and I like to help. I can’t wait to be back.”
His teammates can’t wait either. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon knows better than most what the former FC Zürich star brings to Vancouver’s lineup.
“I think we’ve done pretty well – I think Jordan [Harvey] has come in and done well,” Cannon said after training. “But Alain does offer stuff on the ball that not many in this league do. In saying that, we haven’t missed him too much, and it’s a case now that Jordan’s got some time there, there’s some competition, and that makes everyone better.”
With a busy May approaching in which the Whitecaps could play up to eight matches if they reach the finals of the Canadian Championship, Rochat’s return will be a boost.
“We have missed him at times,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “I think he’s a very good defender, but he’s also excellent on the ball and he helps you build attacks from the back. Jordan has done very well in his absence, so I wouldn’t say it’s been a huge gaping hole or anything like that, but it’s nice to have the potential of having Alain back as soon as possible.”