Battery's Nylen ready to end string of bad luck
If the last two years are any indication, Charleston Battery defender Kevin Nylen might be better served missing the Battery's preseason workouts next spring.
Nylen missed five months of the season in 2007 recovering from a broken ankle he suffered on the second day of practice and missed most of the preseason this year after a groin/hip flexor injury kept him off the soccer field for almost the entire month of March.
"The preseason hasn't been very kind to me the last couple of years," Nylen said. "I don't know what it is, but I haven't had any luck the last two years. Well, when you think about it, I've had plenty of luck, but it has all been bad."
A year ago, Nylen broke his ankle during a ball-control drill and spent the next 13 weeks in a walking boot.
"I was all alone when it happened. I turned to kick the ball and when my foot came back down it landed funny and I heard it snap," Nylen said. "An injury like that is hard to recover from mentally. Mentally you come in every day and you see guys practicing and see guys playing and it's tough. You don't feel like you're a part of the team."
After more than five months on the sidelines, Nylen finally got back on the field in mid-July against Portland.
"I was still pretty tentative when I got back on the field," Nylen said. "My ankle was probably 80-to-85 percent of what it normally was, but mentally was where I had the most trouble. I was questioning every step I took. I was afraid to attack guys because I didn't want to break my ankle again and that's always in the back of your mind. That makes it very hard to play defensively because you can't be aggressive."
Nylen spent most of the offseason strengthening his ankle. Thinking his injury problems were behind him, Nylen couldn't believe his luck when he felt his hamstring pop during a conditioning drill in early March.
"That's the last thing I needed," Nylen said. "After what happened last preseason I was thinking that maybe my injuries were a thing of the past. The only positive was that I wasn't out as long this time."
Nylen saw his first action this season as a substitute, entering the game in the 66th minute against the Carolina RailHawks. Nylen made his first start of the season last week at home against Rochester, recording an assist on the Battery's first goal in the team's 2-0 victory.
"The good thing about Kevin is that he's a versatile player," said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. "I can play him anywhere across the back. He's most comfortable in the middle, but he does a good job when we put him outside. He played very well against Rochester and he's probably still not 100 percent match fit yet."