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Gaston Sauro is enjoying training and eager to get back on the field for Columbus Crew SC

After battling back-to-back serious injuries, the center back just wants to play again.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: Fallon is a new member to the staff. A former soccer player, she is finishing up at Ohio State and will be contributing to Massive Report’s coverage of Crew SC this season.

After enduring two unfortunate injuries in the span of four months, the future of Columbus Crew SC center back Gaston Sauro’s professional soccer career seemed highly uncertain and highly unpredictable.

In late May of 2016, in a game against Toronto FC, Sauro tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and was given the option of surgery, one which he regretfully turned down.

Sauro realized that was what he called the “wrong decision,” when, just about four months later, he began to experience pain in the same knee he just spent time rehabilitating.

After team doctors evaluated the defender’s left knee, they determined this injury was new and separate from the tear in his PCL, but Sauro said this new injury was worsened by his original ailment.

This time, the doctor informed Sauro that there was essentially a 50 percent chance of coming back if he underwent the surgery, one that would require a transplant for the serious cartilage damage he experienced. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make when Sauro thought about not only the recovery, but the chance of not being able to play again, but was ultimately one he was willing to take.

“I was waiting because the match that I needed had to be the same height as me and weight, and finally it was after five long months,” Sauro said. “It was very hard for me, for my mind, for my family too. Now I’m just happy and enjoying every day training here with the guys.”

Fortunately, after missing the entirety of the 2017 season, the center back has returned to training with an immensely optimistic outlook on what the future holds for himself and his teammates.

“I want to come back and play as many games as I can, as I missed,” Sauro said. “I missed many games, and I have a lot of desire and a lot of energy to train.”

Though Sauro is eager to get back on the field and into the action, he stresses that he and head coach Gregg Berhalter do not have goals for the short term and are keeping things very day to day.

“We don’t want to rush him back. We want to make sure he’s comfortable, he’s healthy, and when he gets back, it’s going to be a bonus for the group,” Berhalter said.

If it were up to Sauro, he would like to play every game, but he knows that this was a long process. He and Berhalter are refraining from putting a specific date on the center back’s return and simply focusing on playing good soccer and having a good year.

“I’m going day by day. We expect that I can play during the season, and if I’m not doing well in the first week, we don’t care,” Sauro said. “It’s just thinking about having a good year.”

Right now, Sauro is happy to be back and is looking forward to helping out his teammates and using his experience to assist and inspire the younger guys on the team.

Though this was a long and unpredictable journey, Berhalter is grateful for the progress that Sauro has made thus far and thankful to have him back.

“That’s one of the rewards as a coach. You come back and you see Gaston and how much progress he’s made, and he’s out there with the guys and pushing the guys,” Berhalter said. “Any time a player has an injury like that, you’re just hoping he’s going to make it back, and when he does, it’s nothing but joy.”