UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Veteran defender Chris Albright essentially missed all of last season after a knee injury, but he slowly worked his way into the first team this spring. From reserve matches to the US Open Cup, Albright finally made it to the senior squad.
And he's not going anywhere.
“I’d say I am 100 percent physically," Albright told MLSsoccer.com. "That stretch of games two weeks ago – three games in six days [in which he played 270 minutes] – that was a good test. In terms of form, I feel like I’m getting there and maybe it’s just that final 10 percent in terms of fine tuning that quality and rhythm.”
The former US National Team right back, who in the past has played for Eastern Conference foes D.C. United and New England, has regained the touch and form this season that made him one of the best in the history of the league.
WATCH: Albright finds Ángel
While the rest of his team was in Florida for preseason or in Europe preparing for the start of the league campaign, Albright was in Delaware rehabbing his knee. His workout partner included men’s national team defender Oguchi Onyewu, who was also trying to overcome his own knee injuries.
It was a tough and often grueling time for the right back, who would often do double sessions of rehab in an effort to accelerate his comeback.
The typical rehab session was two hours in length and involved everything from fitness to strength work. Even with all the attention by world-class doctors during his rehab, there were times Albright had doubts about his return.
“There were points in February or March where I had those thoughts in the back of my head," he said. "You hear those voices saying maybe you can’t make it back. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come back. I didn’t know if physically I could do it.”
But come back he has, putting together a solid season. A former forward while in college and during the early days of his professional career, Albright is now an exciting option for the New York attack when he makes deep, well-timed overlapping runs.
His ability to stretch the opposition and serve quality balls into the box has made him perhaps the best right back on the team since former Boca Juniors defender Diego Sonora was with New York in 1998.
“[Albright] helps us so much," midfielder Dane Richards said. "He is always communicating, always talking on the field. But his play – he’s solid back there and when he moves forward, he adds something else to our play that I think makes us dangerous.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012