PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers got some good news this week when forward Bright Dike returned to practice.
The powerfully built 24-year-old ruptured his right Achilles tendon 20 minutes into the Timbers’ first preseason training game on Feb. 5. He underwent surgery to repair the injury two days later.
The original prognosis for recovery was a six- to eight-month recovery, meaning his chances of playing in 2011 were slim. But Dike, who was one of the first four players signed by the Timbers last October after a successful season with the USL club last summer, has been working diligently to get back in the game.
“I’m just trying to do as much as I can without any setbacks,” Dike said at training on Friday. “I’m just trying to get in the second half of the season and get in there and play some games. I’m working hard every day.”
Dike was selected 12th in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew, but did not make the team. He would love nothing more than to return to the Timbers in time to make the trip to Columbus on July 23.
But he also knows his timetable won’t be rushed in order to meet that goal. This week, Dike was back working out with his teammates, but has not yet been cleared for contact with other players.
“I’m working on push-off and strengthening my leg,” Dike said. “Shooting feels normal. I’m hoping to return [to scrimmaging] in a couple of weeks.”
The past couple of months of watching the Timbers take flight in MLS has been difficult emotionally, he says, but also motivating.
“Obviously, it’s really tough,” Dike said. “You want to play. It’s my life to me. I’d rather do this than anything.”
Dike has undergone rehab sessions twice a day at the Providence Sports Care Center, which was constructed over the winter in the southeast corner of JELD-WEN Field.
After the successful surgery, his recovery timeframe was upgraded to 4-6 months.
“As soon as I heard that, I thought, ‘I’m going to go for the four,’” he said. “I wanted to make it back as early as I can.”
Dike believes his Achilles will be stronger than ever. He has used the time off to study the game, work on agility and strengthen his legs.
“I’m hoping [in two weeks] I’ll be training fully and participating in scrimmages,” he said. “We’ll see how it progresses. As long as I’m not feeling any pain, [the medical staff] will let me do more and more.”