'Caps youngster Nanchoff eager to make 2012 debut

Michael Nanchoff

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Michael Nanchoff returned to full training this week and is close to making a return for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The 23-year-old crushed his heel during an awkward landing in Vancouver’s 3-0 preseason win over Kansas City on Feb. 29. No player likes to get injured - especially one fighting for a spot in the rotation. Nanchoff, whose preseason form was electric, has had to deal with both the injury and his disappointment at not getting to play a role in his team's hot start.

“I felt absolutely fantastic to honest,” Nanchoff told MLSsoccer.com this week, discussing his preseason performance. “That’s what makes it even more frustrating – you’re having such a good time, really enjoying your football and it makes everything, even off the field, a lot better.

“So something like that, something little, brings you down in the dumps. But it’s up to me to bring myself up, [and] that’s where my coaches and teammates come in.”

Nanchoff – selected eighth overall by the Whitecaps in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft after an impressive college career with Akron – struggled with a number of groin injuries during his rookie season, only making one start as part of five appearances.

Over the offseason the Ohio native followed a fitness plan outlined by Rick Celebrini, the innovative physiotherapist who the ‘Caps recently named head of sports medicine and science, completing a daily routine using a tool resembling a big rubber band, called the Core X.

Nanchoff is relieved the injury isn’t related to his groin injuries from last season, and is set to put the disappointment behind him.

“Any injury sucks, to be blatantly honest,” Nanchoff said. “But, when you have your teammates supporting you and your coaches supporting you, saying ‘listen, keep your head up, you had a good preseason, you worked hard, you came in fit and strong – don’t worry about it, let’s work to get you back to where you were,’ that’s a pretty good feeling.”

As for the first team’s scoring woes to start the season – the ‘Caps have scored just four goals in five matches – Nanchoff wasn’t eager to play armchair manager, but he is optimistic the offense will get going.

“It’s so much easier said than done,” Nanchoff said. “That’s why spectators have so many differing opinions because they’re going to look at it and say, ‘why didn’t he do this, why didn’t he do that?’ I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong, but I think there’s more things we can do right.

“Just getting on the end of things, just generating a little more offense – we have that in us, so we’re not worried about it.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.