ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City right back Scott Sutter didn’t expect to miss so much time when he first injured his knee.
He felt a sharp pain on the inside of his right knee early in Orlando City’s match against the Portland Timbers on April 8. He continued to play until he was subbed off for RJ Allen in the 58th minute of the match.
He wouldn’t return to game action until the 66th minute of Orlando City’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday – two and 1/2 months later.
“Obviously, it’s been a long eight, nine weeks, a lot longer than we all thought it would be,” Sutter said after Saturday’s match.
“At the beginning, we thought it’d be more like four or six weeks and then it was two months and that’s the worst part of playing soccer, obviously, is not being able to play and having to watch and not being able to help the team. It’s alright when everything is going well and you’re winning, but when you’re losing, you just want to get back out there as quick as possible.”
Looking back, playing after that initial pain might not have been the best idea, Sutter said. He said the pain started when he passed the ball with his foot at an odd angle. It was a pass he’d done thousands of times, he said, but there was a “knife-like” pain in his knee afterward.
“Then I crossed the ball and knew that something was wrong and I think [former head coach] Jason [Kreis] at the time saw that I was clutching my knee and brought me off, so it’s probably not wise to carry on and play through the pain, but I didn’t think it was much and it ended up being worse than I thought.”
Sutter made his return to Orlando City’s match-day 18 on Wednesday. He was on the bench last week for the Lions’ game against D.C. United in the Round of 16 of the U.S Open Cup, but he was never used.
“We’re trying to get Scott some game minutes, which is hard to do because we don’t have a second team to get him game minutes,” said interim coach Bobby Murphy. “We wanted to get him minutes on Wednesday but the game didn’t lend itself to that.”
Sutter missed 11 games in MLS play and two Open Cup matches with his injury.
He didn’t get the return he wanted on Saturday – Orlando City lost its seventh-consecutive match – and said while he was out, he just tried to keep his head down and work. He didn’t keep too close an eye on the standings; he just wanted to help the club succeed.
“There’s no lack of effort from everyone that’s on the team,” he said. “I think it just comes from that little bit of success, that one goal, that one result in the league that stops this losing streak, that gets us back on track.
“I think that is what we need. It doesn’t matter how it comes, it could be the worst performance of the year, but just we grind out somehow with a lucky goal or something. That might be the turning point that we desperately need. We just need to keep working hard and hopefully at some point it’ll come. We all know we need to be better in every aspect.”
O’Neill adjusting to Orlando
Orlando City’s newest player can’t take the pitch until after the secondary transfer opens on July 10, but he’s already training with the Lions.
Centerback Shane O’Neill is back in MLS after an extended stay in Europe. He started his professional career with the Colorado Rapids in 2012. Orlando City confirmed his signing on Friday.
He said the league and grown leaps and bounds since he last played in 2015.
“Everyone’s got a great stadium now,” he said. “Not only that, but the quality has improved. You’ve got younger players coming from Europe over here and the quality has just gotten a lot better of the American player, with the academy system.
“Overall, couldn’t have asked for a better time and a better opportunity with this club.”
O’Neill had a built-in relationship with Orlando City in midfielder Dillon Powers. The two played together in Colorado.
“Huge, for sure,” O’Neill said. “Dillon’s an amazing guy, so that’s been nice to have a good friend in the area, obviously. When you’re over in Europe, it can be a little bit more challenging.
“It’s been really nice to have somebody I know quite well. He’s helped me around the area.”
O’Neill said he’s looking forward to playing in purple for the first time.
“First, I’ve got to earn my spot and prove myself to the teammates,” he said. “That’s first and foremost. It’s such an amazing club. The atmosphere, training ground in this area, it’s been top-notch. It’s just exciting times and hopefully I can contribute to the team.”