MONTREAL – For the first time in eight months, Adrián López took part in the same activity that ended his 2013 season: a full training session.
Signed by the Montreal Impact last July, the former Deportivo La Coruña and Wigan Athletic center back tore his ACL in practice in late August, ending his season before he even made his MLS debut.
After rehabilitating in Barcelona, López returned to Montreal in March and vowed to be back in full training a month later. It ultimately took almost two months, so while López is back in training and anxious to play in a game, he will not return to the field until Montreal's medical staff deems him ready.
“I have to go step by step,” López told reporters. “At the moment, my aim is to be fully back – to feel my fitness back, my confidence back. From that on, I’ll start to play games and then come back to my level.”
Still, Tuesday was quite a big step. Less than a week ago, Impact head coach Frank Klopas explained that López needed to progress in a controlled environment for some time. Klopas was thus delighted with López’s “movement and confidence level” as he proceeded from simple passing drills and patterns to actual scrimmages, where the 27-year-old veteran showcased his passing range out of the back despite a lack of match fitness.
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“We're going to keep pushing him a little bit more every day and see how he feels, but it’s a positive,” Klopas said. “I couldn’t tell you how long, one week, two weeks, one month. It just depends on how he feels.”
In that respect, Montreal’s current 10-day break – they face either Ottawa or Edmonton in the Amway Canadian Championship on Wednesday, May 7 – will benefit not only López, but also Hernan Bernardello, Nelson Rivas and Sanna Nyassi, all dealing with injuries.
“We have a lot of players with a few knocks,” team captain Patrice Bernier told reporters. “We’re glad that Adrián’s coming back, and others will come back so we may have the group at 100 percent to tackle both Canadian Championship and league games in a week.”