After two months of grueling rehabilitation, Markus Halsti can see the finish line. D.C. United’s biggest international acquisition of the offseason is back in full training with the Black-and-Red this week. Ahead of three home games in the next two weeks – starting with Saturday’s visit by the Columbus Crew - the Finnish veteran spoke with DCUnited.com about the joy of being back on the field.
D.C. United: What’s it like to start playing again with the rest of the team?
Markus Halsti: Of course, after 10 weeks, it sounds silly to say, but it’s a dream come true. It feels really good, really exciting, I’m like a small boy. Just after training [on Wednesday], I wanted to stay and take some extra shots, just do everything with the ball, but the coaches and trainers said maybe that’s not wise at the moment. Still, it feels like being a young boy again.
DCU: You’ve gotten to know the trainers better than your teammates over the last two months.
MH: That’s not always a good thing. But yeah, everything in those 10 week s has worked really fine with the rehab. I’m happy that we have such a good training staff, a big thanks to them. We’re almost there. Not yet, but almost there. It feels great to be back, especially with the guys. Just being there, joking with the guys, doing whatever on the pitch, it feels amazing.
DCU: Have you ever been through a lengthy rehab before?
MH: It’s been a long time. [With D.C. United], especially coming into a new environment, a new club, everything is different, and then you get injured almost directly. It didn’t feel good. But now, checking back after 10 weeks, everything has gone really good, and soon, hopefully, I’ll be fit to play.
DCU: Are you the type of guy to push the coaches, or can you be patient?
MH: You should ask them. I think I’ve been both. I’m eager to play, but I also understand, especially for the first time with this type of injury, I’ve been listening to the coaches most of the time. I want to be fit because it’s a long season, and if I come back too early, it’s just stupid.
DCU: When you watched the team’s victory over Vancouver, did you get a sense of how important that victory was as a statement for this team?
MH: Of course, to go there and first, concede a goal, and then to come back, it’s really strong to do that, especially against a team that’s leading the league. It was great to see. That’s a little bit what I think we are as a team. We have the courage and the will to win those kinds of games and show that we are that type of team that really wants to win those type of games.