Sounders Notebook: Zakuani targeting March return

Steve Zakuani

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TUKWILA, Wash. — Those who wondered what Seattle’s offense might have looked like with Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales on the wings need only wait until next season. The effervescent Zakuani spoke with reporters during the Sounders’ end-of-season availability on Monday and said he plans to be ready for 2012.

“My season kind of starts now, I guess,” Zakuani said.  

WATCH: Zakuani on road to recovery
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Zakuani suffered a double-fracture in his right leg after a harsh challenge from Colorado's Brian Mullan back on April 22. During the winter, the midfielder plans to stay close to Seattle’s training facilities and adhere to a workingman’s Monday-through-Friday schedule of rehabilitation.

With the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals likely set for next March, his goal is to be ready for Seattle’s preseason training camp.

“That’s my aim. I’m not aiming to be ready to go by January, that’s unrealistic,” Zakuani said. “By March, I’d like to be able to play in the games. … I think it’s more than possible, and I think I will be [ready]. It’s just about putting the work in now.”

The 2009 MLS SuperDraft No. 1 overall pick also shared some details of his recovery, including his battles with Compartment Syndrome. Potentially fatal in severe cases, the disorder is caused by the compression of tissue in an enclosed space and can lead to muscle necrosis in the affected area. In Zakuani’s case, the disorder has robbed him of full feeling in his right foot. Even after the double-leg fracture healed, the nerve problems continued to plague the third-year player.

“I lost a lot of nerves,” Zakuani said. “That’s been the main problem I’ve had. The leg has been fine for a while, it’s just my nerves issues. We didn’t want to say that right away because I wanted to see if it was going to come back. It’s slowly coming back and that’s the main issue.”

Zakuani didn’t join any full-contact drills toward the end of the season, aware that the team’s intensity as it prepared for a playoff series wouldn’t mesh well with a player coming back from injury.

At the time of his injury, O’Brian White and Zakuani shared the team lead for goals with two. Zakuani tied for the team lead in goals in 2010 with 10 tallies from his left midfield position.

Rosales confident of extension

Midfielder Rosales believes he could have a new contract with the Sounders as early as this week. According to the Argentine, the final details are being worked out and he’s confident the deal will be done before he departs for his home country this offseason.

Rosales joins Eric Hassli (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Luke Rodgers (New York Red Bulls) as finalists for the league’s Newcomer of the Year award.

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.