JOHN KRETLOW - Monday, August 26, 2013
After an injury plagued year, Calen Carr is poised to make his return to the Houston Dynamo.
After months away from the game due to concussion symptoms last year, Calen Carr began his first comeback with Houston. He helped the Dynamo make it to the 2012 MLS Cup final, and not only that, but the talented attacker scored his most important goal in his career to put the Dynamo ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first half of the title game.
Going into halftime with the lead, the Dynamo were in line to avenge their 2011 MLS Cup final loss to Los Angeles. Almost like a storybook ending, Carr's comeback season was hitting its climax.
However, in the blink of an eye, things turned for the worse for Carr and the Dynamo.
A collision early in the second half brought the former Chicago Fire forward to the ground. It was soon obvious that Carr could not continue and Houston coach Dominic Kinnear was forced to sideline the attacker.
Quickly Los Angeles took control of the game and scored three unanswered goals en route to the 2012 title.
And to make things worse, Carr had torn his ACL. The California Golden Bear's storybook season had just turned from a dream to a nightmare.
"Obviously you never want to get hurt. You never want to come out of a final," explained Carr. "The way it happened for me was difficult. We were having our way in the game. We were in a good moment and then all of a sudden things kind of just fell apart for us," added the forward.
Nine months later Carr has undergone major knee surgery and rehabbed furiously in hopes of playing part in Houston's 2013 campaign. "Since then it's been pretty tough stuff, you know just trying to stay mentally positive and take it day by day," explained Carr.
"I'm not going to lie and say it has been easy. It's been pretty brutal the entire time and now I'm progressing towards some of the fun stuff," added the 30-year old. "I'm hoping that my hard work will pay off."
ACL tears and other similar knee injuries have become common in the world of sports. So much so that fans can sometimes take for granted the long and painful rehabilitation process.
"Obviously its hard work," explained the Oakland, California native. "There's a good pain and a bad pain that you learn," reflected Carr about his rehabilitation.
"You're going to have some soreness obviously and a little bit of pain when you're rebuilding your knee and building the muscles around it. You always have to be a little bit careful," continued Carr.
The forward is also quick to note the help he had in the process.
"Luckily I have a really good team to help me. Our athletic trainer is the best in the business and he's been really good about monitoring my progress," explained Carr. "I've had a good surgeon and support staff that's enabled me to come back the way that I need to."
As the striker now participates in full contact training, he is sure that he will return to the field just as dynamic a player.
"I'll be the same player for sure," said Carr. "I've come back before. Unfortunately I've had a lot of injuries and I've always come back better. The last couple of years have been some of my best so I'm hoping to return to that level."
With Carr missing the whole season thus far, he is aware of the changes the Dynamo have put forth in their team and is pleased with their contributions thus far.
"We've got some new guys that have come in this year and really helped," the striker explained. "Andrew Driver and Giles Barnes, who was on the team last year but he's played a much bigger role obviously," noted Carr.
Carr also assessed the Dynamo's position thus far this season.
"I think the hardest part maybe why you see us a little bit further down in the table than we'd like is that we've missed some guys," explained Carr. "We've been a victim of our own success with Boniek (García) and Brad (Davis) being gone," noted Carr about the various Dynamo players that have missed games because of international duty.
"I mean you take those two guys out of any team and you're going to struggle," lamented the forward.
However, as has become a tradition in Houston, the Dynamo have began to make their customary second half surge.
"I think the past month or so has been some of out better play," explained Carr. "I think were coming back in form and hopefully getting more guys healthy can only help us get ready for the playoffs."
With the top of the Eastern Conference completely bundled, Houston has as good a chance as anyone to make noise in the 2013 season.
Kinnear and company have signed another Designated Player in Alex Lopez and with the impending return of Carr, the Dynamo could be prime for another MLS Cup run.
This time however, Carr and the Dynamo hope to finish the 2013 season with a championship.