Q&A: Savage prepares for the heart of the season

Midfielder Keith Savage played in all 30 regular-season matches for the Timbers in 2009. After missing the first half of the season with a knee injury, the second-year midfielder is ready to get back on the pitch and contribute down the stretch.
Fresh off a fantastic season in 2009, you came into preseason ready to go. What were your first thoughts when you were sidelined with your knee injury?
Keith Savage: I was very upset for a couple reasons. First, I felt that I had prepared better than I ever had for a season. I was in great shape and mentally more prepared to come in from the beginning and try to earn a spot. But, I also felt I was letting my coaches and teammates down. Being the first one out of preseason in only three days is frustrating and it’s hard to watch everyone work hard while you’re sitting on the sideline.

Have you experienced a long-term injury like this during your playing career?

KS: I have had a few knocks here and there that have kept me out a few days and a couple ankle sprains in college that kept me out two or three weeks, but never any surgery or long term injuries.

You’ve been back on the training field for a few weeks now. How is your body holding up in what is really your “preseason?”

KS: At first, I think something different hurt every morning when I woke up and I would be so mad because I am not used to that. It’s amazing how quickly your muscles atrophy and how long it feels like it takes to get back in shape. I feel better and better every day now and getting less sore when I wake up, so I know that I am getting close to where I need to be.

You saw some game action in the friendlies against Atlas and Manchester City. What were your emotions when you took the field for the first time this season?

KS: Nervous … but excited. I had not really gone full out until the Atlas game and I didn't know how my body would respond. It held up just fine, but my fitness was terrible. Then after a week of training, I was a little more comfortable in the Man City game. It was fun not only to play one of the biggest clubs in the world, but I was more confident and able to do a little more.

When do you hope to be fully fit and be able to play at 100 percent?

KS: My fitness is getting better and better each day as I am able to really push myself again. I think it takes time to truly be fully fit and that happens after you start playing in more and more games. A regular preseason is at least a month and I will be there next week.

We’re starring at the final stretch of the season. What are your goals for the remainder of the campaign?

KS: For the final stretch, I want to do exactly what I wanted to do when I came in for preseason. I am ready to push every midfielder for a spot on the field and when I get on I want to make an impact on the game. Guys are playing very well right now so I want to keep the level high and increase it even more if possible. We are all upset about how the season ended last year and I know we will all do what we can to push each other towards a championship come October.