It might not seem like a big deal to most people, but getting to participate in team warm-ups is a big step for FC Dallas rookie Walker Zimmerman. The young centerback was drafted in the first round (seventh overall) by Dallas in last January's MLS SuperDraft, but due to a prior groin injury has yet to practice with the squad.
Zimmerman was considered by many to be a risky pick by FCD because his injury prohibited him from participating in the Combine leading up to the SuperDraft. Head coach Schellas Hyndman said his staff scouted the defender during his college career at Furman well enough to know that he was worth the risk.
"We’d seen him play in college and we knew he was with the Under-20 National Team, so we got a lot of reports on him," Hyndman told FCDallas.com after training Wednesday. "The things we really liked about him were his athleticism, his courage and his character. He’s a lot like George [John] and Matt [Hedges], a similar type of player."
Ever since FC Dallas picked him in the first round, Zimmerman has been working tirelessly to return to the field and show the club that it's faith was not misplaced.
"We know it’s frustrating for him and he wants to be able to help the team," said Hyndman. "He works awfully hard and follows his recovery plan religiously and now we’re starting to see a little life in his legs because he’s really excited to join us in training."
Now that he's started participating in warm-ups, Zimmerman's next milestone will be to take part in a full training session. The recovery process may sound tedious, but Hyndman said it's the best way for players to avoid a more severe injury in the long run.
"Sometimes you’re so anxious to get players back onto the field that you can push them too quick," said the gaffer. "Then when they’re in a game situation, their adrenaline’s going high and they want to help the team, but if something goes wrong then they’re set further back again with another injury.
"We want to make sure he’s capable of the demands of the training session, which will then verify to us that he’s capable of the demands of the game."