PORTLAND -- Brent Richards is trying to be patient.
Halfway through August, the Camas native still isn't able to train with the Portland Timbers. His surgically repaired left knee is fine for walking and jogging, but not yet ready for the kind of movement playing soccer requires.
Richards injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Jan. 26 during a Timbers preseason training session. He had surgery on Feb. 5. At the time he was told it would take about six months for his knee to completely heal.
But early August has passed and there is still a bit of pain. So, as his teammates enter a key phase of the season with today's home match against FC Dallas, the start of Richards' second season of professional soccer remains delayed. The 23-year-old has gone through some warm-up activities during Timbers' training sessions, but is not yet cleared for soccer activities.
"I can do a lot of forward running, but some of the side-to-side I'm not able to do yet," Richards said on Friday. "So we're not trying to push it too hard, just trying to let it heal. It's just taking a little bit longer than expected."
He admits the waiting is getting old. During his rehabilitation, he has watched many of the team's training sessions to keep tuned in to what head coach Caleb Porter wants from his players. Working with trainers and physical therapists, Richards said he has focused on improving his
overall strength during his time away from soccer.
The biggest challenge has been keeping a positive outlook, he said.
"It's been a test, but I suppose it's a learning experience, too."
As a rookie last season, Richards appeared in six matches, starting twice.
Busy stretch -- Today's 8 p.m. match against FC Dallas is the first of four in 14 days against teams Portland is battling with for one of five spots in the Western Conference playoffs. Next is a visit from first-place Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, followed by visits to Seattle on Aug. 25 and Real Salt Lake on Aug. 30.
Will Johnson and Frederic Piquionne are among players whose health is publicly unknown. Porter on Friday said that multiple Timbers could be described as "day to day."
But the coach emphasized that injuries will not create uncertainty within the team.
"We know exactly what we're doing," he said.