More than eight months after going down with a season-ending knee injury, Dan Metzger played his first game for New York Red Bulls II last weekend on Saturday, April 2.
The midfielder started and played 66 minutes en route to the team’s first win of the season on the road against Louisville City FC, 2-0.
“It was good - I had a bunch of games leading up to it that definitely helped me prepare, but once it comes for a regular season game it’s a whole different game,” Metzger said. “It was definitely fun being out there, being able to play with my teammates again, and just to get solid minutes under my belt since my injury. The plan was never to go 90, but with the time I had I thought I did well.”
Metzger played his final game of the 2015 season on July 22, while making his first team debut in the Red Bulls’ International Champions Cup victory against Chelsea F.C., 4-2.
After undergoing surgery later that week, he began his lengthy rehabilitation.
“At first it was a lot of stability work, just focusing on landing and once that came back it came to be lateral movements and then building back up to strength,” Metzger remembered. “At [physical therapy], we did a lot of single-leg work, we did a lot of balance and exercises to help with my coordination because the muscle comes back eventually, but the hardest thing to get back is the coordination.”
Despite the difficulty of the physical restoration, the midfielder conceded that the key was a positive mentality.
“It’s tough you just got to take it day-by-day really,” Metzger said. “At first I didn’t think it would be too bad and then after the first couple months went by, you realize how much it sucks being out and not being able to play.
“You really just have to take every day and just look forward to the next one, be positive with everything you do and then at the end of it, once six or seven months came, it felt like it flew by. It is very mental, but in the long run if you can just stay positive you can get through it.”
Last season, Metzger totaled 12 games played, including 11 starts, with Red Bulls II while also balancing national team duties with the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team.
For the former Red Bulls academy player, the goal in 2016 is to reestablish himself – then challenge for a spot in the first team.
“For myself it’s just to get back where I ended last year and then hopefully better and push for the first team at the end of the year. We’ve got a new team - we look good at the start - a lot of new players and everything so hopefully we can push for a better season and end with a championship.”
New York Red Bulls II returns to action at Red Bull Arena this weekend on Sunday, April 17, against Rochester Rhinos at 4 p.m. ET (WATCH: NewYorkRedBulls.com/Live; TICKETS: NewYorkRedBulls.com/2/tickets)