PORTLAND, Ore. – The return of midfielder Sal Zizzo to practice on Monday meant the Portland Timbers will be as healthy from top to bottom this week as they’ve been since the start of the MLS season.
The 23-year-old suffered a separated shoulder in a preseason match against San Jose on March 12, one week prior to the Timbers’ opener at Colorado.
“The previous couple of weeks, I was just kind of going through the motions, wanting to play but not really able to go 100 percent,” Zizzo said.
Zizzo earned praise for his teamwork with defender Steve Purdy during an earlier preseason contest against the Seattle Sounders. However, that budding partnership was lost after Zizzo got hurt when he collided with former Toronto midfielder Dwayne De Rosario in Portland's 2-0 loss to the Reds.
“It was a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with De Rosario,” Zizzo recalled. “I heard a little pop in my ear.”
Zizzo said he is playing pain-free again and ready to slide into the lineup whenever head coach John Spencer wants to insert him. Although there is no guarantee he’ll play, the former Chivas USA man will be available for the Timbers' home opener on Thursday against the Chicago Fire (11 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
Despite the lost practice time, Zizzo avoided losing his fitness. He underwent two-a-day training sessions with strength and conditioning coach Karim Derqaoui.
“I almost feel more fit than I would been otherwise,” Zizzo said. “I’m ready to go.”