WASHINGTON – D.C. United’sexpectations for Rodney Wallace this season could be measured by the sheer sizeof the banner that bore his likeness on the east side of RFK Stadium, one ofseveral massive promotional signs nearly as tall as the building itself thatstared down at passing cars on East Capitol Street.
But his season lasted less than1,000 minutes, thanks to a broken leg sustained against Real Salt Lake on June5 and a rehabilitation setback two months later that kept him fromplaying again in 2010.
A premature return to high intensity in August extendedhis original recovery schedule of 8-12 weeks into many months, and even nowUnited’s trainers are handling him with caution, keeping him well short of fullspeed while the team winds down their post regular-season practice schedule.
“It was a mix of different things,different factors,” Wallace said this week. “On the one hand,it was my first serious injury and I was excited to come back and play, sopersonally, I wanted to come back, and I felt like I could’ve slowed down alittle bit on my progress.
“We as a group all believed I wasready at that time, and I just wasn’t. And we had to tone it down and do whatwe had to do to get where we are now."
Like his apartment-mate ChrisPontius, Wallace was badly missed by the squad that benefited greatly fromtheir surprising contributions as rookies in 2009. The left back slot was anongoing headache for United this season and he admits now that the desire tohelp his struggling teammates instigated an overeager approach torecovery.
“It was me fighting against thepain, and I felt like I had to take a timeout and realize, it’s my career andit’s my leg and I have to tone it down and see what else I can do to get better,”Wallace said. “There was a lot going on. It was a big situation and I’m gladthat we’re now getting this thing taken care of.”
His left fibula seems have fullyhealed, though at present he’s working through a gradual ramp-up with an eyetowards the late January outset of 2011 preseason. That means no sprinting yet,though he has been able to do some light ball work.
“We’re starting to do a lot ofagility stuff,” Wallace said Wednesday morning. “I’m doing a lot of the littlethings to get me through to be 100 percent running, and then from then on we’reworking on my fitness at the same time: touches with the ball, everything toget back to normal. It’s a process but we’re getting there.
“It feels good to have a sense ofjust getting healthy,” he said. “I’m going upwards.”