WASHINGTON – Sidelined with an ACL tear suffered in an April US Open Cup play-in game against the New England Revolution, Branko Boskovic hasn’t played a competitive game since then. Though the D.C. United Designated Player has resumed training with the club in the past few weeks, his rehab is still not complete.
But even if he's not ready to take the playing field, that doesn’t mean he won’t be joining up with his native Montenegro for their crucial two-leg playoff against the Czech Republic next week for a spot in the 2012 European Championship.
“They call me more to be with the group because it’s a historical game for our country,” Boskovic told MLSsoccer.com. “They call me, they insist.”
Having only recently returned to the training pitch with D.C., Boskovic was appreciative of the gesture for United to OK next week’s trip, as the two legs take place on Nov. 11 and 15.
“I really need to say thanks to my coaching staff, everybody in the club because they understand the situation,” he said. “And it’s good for me also.”
It’s a massive tie for the young country, which began competing on the international stage in 2007. Montenegro advanced to the playoff round by virtue of a second place finish in Group G, and can qualify for the next summer’s tournament if they defeat the Czechs.
Before his injury, Boskovic played in four of Montenegro’s qualifiers, and now gets a chance to meet up with the squad and offer support during the crucial two-game stretch. The 31-year-old has a lot of faith in his teammates to get the job done.
“We have a young team with very good players; they are best in their club where they play,” he said. “All these results [in qualification], we have more confidence now. We feel like we can play against everybody. When you play two times with England, 0-0, 2-2, you know your confidence is bigger and you think you can play against everybody, especially when young players have these feelings.”
Getting the call up and being back on the field with D.C. has been a relief during what has been the longest injury absence of his career.
“After long rehab, it’s really good to touch the ball, be with the group,” he said. “I’m so close to start to train [in full] with the group and maybe play 10, 15 minutes some games.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.