Centre back Andy O'Brien
Bob Frid

Andy O'Brien making progress from injury, but status still in limbo

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC center back Andy O’Brien feels like he’s making progress from a hamstring injury, but getting back into the action for this weekend’s match against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center is still questionable.

The former Irish international has been out of action for well over a month, after pulling the muscle in a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders on June 8, and has yet to return to full training.

“In terms of being available for that game, it might be a little bit soon – certainly to start,” O’Brien told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Tuesday, shortly after removing an ice pack from his leg. “Hopefully Thursday there could be an opportunity that I could train, and then depending on how well that goes, it’s the manager’s decision.”

An MRI on O’Brien’s hamstring a few days after the pull indicated no significant damage, but the injury has lingered.

“It’s the best it’s been,” O’Brien said. “I think it’s just been a bit frustrating, because I was running five days after I’d done the injury and I seem to have been running for a long time now.”

While O’Brien, 34, has been able to maintain a level of cardiovascular fitness by running laps after graduating from a rehab regimen which included jogging on an underwater treadmill, the ability to execute explosive movements is still an issue.

“It’s just the higher end stuff,” he said. “The quicker, shorter, sharper, twisting stuff that’s holding me back. But today’s the best day, and hopefully it won’t be long now until I’m available to be selected if needed.”

O’Brien’s presence was immediately missed in that loss to Seattle – the team was leading 2-1 before his enforced departure – but since then the Whitecaps have gone on a six-game unbeaten run without him.

That streak has in large part come as a result of the play of Brad Rusin and Johnny Leverón. That central defensive pairing has allowed just two goals over the past three matches.

So while O’Brien is delighted to see his team performing so well, he feels when he does make his return there will be little room for error if he wants to keep his spot.

“I think it adds more pressure,” O’Brien said. “If and when I get another opportunity, it’s important that I perform. Because I know if I don’t, there’s other players that will come in and can do a good job.”

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.