GIASE: Duvall puts injury in the rearview mirror as road to recovery continues

He still hasn’t watched the tape. Athletes tend to do that on plays when they are seriously hurt. What’s the sense of having that image seared into your memory? It’s better just to move forward.
And that’s just what Chris Duvall has done. It has been a little over two months since the Red Bulls’ second-year defender broke his tibia in a U.S. Open Cup match against the New York Cosmos July 1 at Red Bull Arena.  Since then there has been intense therapy and a hope that the three-to-four-month recovery period can include some playing time before the season ends.
“It’s definitely tough dealing with injuries. It’s part of the game and we all know that when we start playing,” Duvall said following a recent team training session. “There’s been a lot of progress and I’m really happy with it, and the doctor’s really happy with it, so hopefully I’ll keep coming along quickly.”
As for returning this season, Duvall remains optimistic.
“I hope so, that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “So far it looks like we’re right on track. Hopefully I can stick with it. The timetable, it’s not set in stone, but we’re definitely shooting to be game-ready by the end of the season.
“It’s more of just a desire to play. I don’t want to do something stupid and push too hard and end up having to back track, but it’s not as much of an importance to get back in as far as my injury, it’s more a desire to get back in and to get back to playing and do what I love.”
Though the back line, with a combination of personnel, has played well in his absence, Duvall had cemented his place at right back and was having a strong season before the injury. As a rookie in 2014, Duvall started 18 of 19 games and had an assist. This season, he started 14 of 15 games and recorded a goal and an assist. His goal, a beautiful volley against New York City FC June 28 at Yankee Stadium, snapped a 1-1 tie and the Red Bulls went on to win, 3-1.
That was a great memory, but it’s extremely tough for an injured player to feel like he’s still part of the team. Duvall says that’s never been the case.
“(Jesse’s) been very supportive since day one,” he said. “He came with me to the hospital after the game. He was there for me when I first came back. He’s been very vocal and very supportive. That’s not really a concern of mine. He checks up on me every day and we’ve got a very good relationship. Right now it’s about focusing on getting my body back healthy and I know that they have my back.”
The injury occurred late in the game with the Cosmos with the Red Bulls in command. Duvall and Cosmos defender Hunter Gorskie each slid in hard for a 50-50 ball. Duvall got the worst of it while all Gorskie received was a yellow card.
“It’s not something I really want to watch. I’m just trying to move forward,” Duvall said. “It’s just a play that you actually see fairly often, even in practice. Two guys sliding for the ball and I just caught the bad end of it. I don’t think it was malicious at all. It was just a regular football play.
“I assumed it was bad. I felt the pain and I looked at my leg, and when I saw it was in one piece I thought it might not be so bad, but I kind of had an assumption. I fractured my tibia all the way through so they put a rod and two screws in there and kind of solidified it and helped it grow back together so I could put some weight on it. It was a clean break so they said the surgery was fairly easy.”
Duvall was on crutches for a while, then was using a walking boot. Now he is walking without any aide, but he is still far from being game-ready.
“Right now I’m doing a little bit of ball work. I can juggle, but that’s about the extent of that,” he said. “I do a lot of stuff in the weight room, whether it’s squats and lifting and a little bit of jogging every other day. The schedule changes week to week as I get a little stronger.
“(The rehab’s) always been right on point. It looked very fast because of the type of surgery that it was. Because of the rod and screws that they put in there I was able to put weight on it almost immediately. Being able to walk early was definitely helpful to keep my muscles strong and make sure nothing weakened.  It’s just right on track.”


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