Three months ago, Lance Rozeboom’s professional careerwas off to a great start.
After being selected by D.C. United with the 26th overall pick in the 2012 MLS Supplementaldraft, the rookie played his way onto the team thanks to a solid andconsistent preseason effort. Hewas left off the 18-man match day roster for the season-opener against SportingKansas City, but a week later, Rozeboom traveled west for D.C.’s first road trip of the regular season. Against the Galaxy, theUniversity of New Mexico product was on the bench and – though he didn’t enterthe contest – was clearly pushing for playing time in Ben Olsen’s crowdedmidfield rotation.
Two days later, on March 20, Rozeboom’s rookie campaign cameto a crashing halt. During a Tuesday practice in California, the man United’stechnical staff had taken to calling ‘Boomer’ tore the anterior cruciateligament in his left knee. He had surgery on April 5.
“It was a shock at first,” said Rozeboom, who hopes to be clearedfor jogging within a couple weeks. “It’s tough having an injury that lasts for this long. You can kind of go crazy not seeing aball or being able to touch a ball for a while.”The rookie’s injury has kept him away from RFK’s main field,but it hasn’t prevented the 23-year-old from being a frequent contributor onthe club’s adjacent training grounds. Despite being just two months removed from surgery, Rozeboom regularlypasses practice time knocking a ball back and forth with whichever memberof the equipment staff happens to be closest by. The midfielder is a vocal presence when not working on his owntouch, often overheard encouraging teammates when they might need an extra push atthe end of a conditioning drill.
On Thursday, while donning practice gear, cleats and a graypenny, Rozeboom took another step. As Olsen put his players through a heated possession exercise, ‘Boomer’served balls in to his teammates. It was a small measure of progress, but a meaningful one.
“I like to stay around the guys as much as possible,” addedRozeboom, who admits he’s been told to ‘slow down’ multiple times by United’smedical staff. “Just to let theguys know that I support them. Iknow they come out here and battle. I know how long and tough of a season it is. They are doing great right now, I’m real proud of them.”
Rozeboom’s desire to contribute isn’t lost on his teammates, who see therookie’s sunny disposition in the face of adversity as a reminder of how goodthey have it.
“A lot of people would be down in the dumps and mopingaround but he comes in with a smile on his face,” noted veteran Lewis Neal, whohas struck up a quick friendship with the rookie. “Having to look at somebodywho has to come in and sit and watch - when you are a bit down - it gives alittle perspective on things.”