Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani took a significant step on his long road to recovery Friday, playing the first 45 minutes in a Major League Soccer Reserve League match against Vancouver.
Afterward he said he felt fine, is happy with his progress, and promised a return to MLS this season.
“It’s coming – it’s coming really soon,” he said. “I’m not going to wait until I feel 100 percent. That’s not going to get me anywhere. I think as soon as feel I can get in and contribute – if it’s 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there – I’ll be talking to (coach Sigi Schmid) and see what I can do. … (This) taste now just makes me hungry to get the real thing.”
His return came in a 2-1 loss at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
However, the result was an afterthought to Zakuani’s first game appearance since suffering a fractured right tibia and fibula April 22, 2011, at Colorado.
He had several threatening runs, and one missed scoring chance that he somehow both regretted and appreciated.
“Every completed pass felt great,” Zakuani said. “Every time I was able to run and turn I felt good. I was just happy to be out there. I think I should have scored, but I will take that. A year ago I would have given anything to miss a shot.”
Zakuani also got knocked down a few times – once hard enough that teammate Roger Levesque went over to deliver a word and a quick shove to Vancouver’s Daniel Stanese.
“That’s part of the game,” he said. “I’m not really worried about re-doing the injury. It’s about building my fitness and building my sharpness and getting my touch back.”
As for the game, Vancouver (3-1-1) scored on two headers by Danny Mattocks. Dom Dismuke scored for Seattle (1-3-1) in the 81st minute.