After year off, Albright edging toward return

Veteran defender plays 45 minutes in reserve scrimmage

Chris Albright

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It's been more than a year since New York Red Bulls defender Chris Albright was on the field for a MLS game. Back then he was a New England Revolution player, and he went 90 minutes against FC Dallas.

Having suffered a season-ending injury to his left meniscus last year that resulted in two surgeries, Albright was back on the practice field on Monday morning at the team’s training facility at Montclair State University. He earned praise from head coach Hans Backe for his sharp play and touch several times during the practice.

“It’s been a while—this is my fourth training session in a year so there’s gonna be missteps,” Albright told MLSSoccer.com. “It’s getting better each day.”

Albright was acquired by New York on draft day to help solidify the backline. Now entering his 12th year in the league, Albright was brought in as much for his ability to shut down the opposition as for his winning ways—the right back has won three MLS Cups with two different teams. Throw in 22 appearances for the national team, and you have a player that can help the back four in Backe’s scheme.

Then again, this is a New York team that hasn’t conceded a goal in its first two matches of the season and showed real grit and determination in the preseason. Backe said on Monday that Seattle was effective in pushing players forward, but he was pleased that they “didn’t create big chances.”

Albright was pleased with what he saw from his fellow defenders against Seattle in New York’s 1-0 victory on Saturday night.

“They’ve done tremendous,” Albright said. “Hans has done a real good job game organization wise, [in] making sure we’re a difficult team to break down.”

Albright hoped to be on the field sooner rather than later, and on Tuesday morning he played 45 minutes in a scrimmage against Rutgers University. The Red Bulls fielded mostly reserves in the match, and eased to a 5-0 victory.

Albright admitted that he is still rusty, kind of “that last 10 or 15 percent to go.” He isn’t quite ready to make his return in a game that counts.

“I still got a little ways for that,” he said.