Amongst Colorado’s many issues early in 2018, injuries to key components rank right up towards the top. No less than 3 starters have been out long-term, with one being an important part of the new 5-man midfield attack in Johan Blomberg.
After chalking up a bothersome knee to normal wear and tear, Johan noticed something during the road match at Real Salt Lake back on April 29 that he could no longer ignore. “I felt it at halftime already-a little tight, soreness-but that’s pretty normal as a soccer player,” he tells The Voice of C38.
Blomberg thought he could play through the discomfort, but quickly realized that the contact which usually accompanies his hard-nosed game was taking its toll. “It happened three times during the game. I got hit somehow and fell to the ground. It felt really painful. It was in the knee area, but I felt like I could keep on going. After the second time, Keith (our physio) asked me ‘can you go?’ and I was like…50/50 but I want to give it a shot but it felt pretty terrible.”
“Then not long after that we did our last substitution of the game, and I got another hit and I felt I was done. I had to keep on going, I didn’t even say anything, I just kept on going,” said Johan, who was more worried about his team’s chances rather than his own at the time. “Now when I look at it, I should have gone out with a ½ an hour to go. That would have been so much smarter to do but as a player you always want to play.”
The talented Swede was optimistic afterwards that the injury would not keep him out of any MLS action, but that soon turned into doubt as he approached training during the first week after Salt Lake City. “After that game, I had a lot of pain but I was optimistic to play the week after. We told the coaching staff that hopefully I can play, not 100%, but I can play. I did some treatment for a few days and then went back to the pitch on Thursday or Friday and gave it a shot. It was no way-not possible. It was sharp pain in the shin/knee area. We did an MRI and it showed it was pretty big inflammation in the attachment.”
“I thought-ok, it’s not too bad, nothing broke-so then it was like maybe I can play the week after that. It didn’t get better and it’s been like that the whole time,” says the by now impatient Blomberg.
“It’s been annoying because I can do 90% of the stuff, but when I went 100% I felt too much pain. It’s just a totally new experience. The physician’s think it’s such a weird injury, pretty unusual. It’s so annoying when you can do so many things but you can’t play.”
However, Johan has been able to keep his fitness up throughout his time off the pitch, which should allow him to re-enter at a level to help the Rapids for most of the match. “The good thing is I could run on the treadmill a lot, I could do strength, I could keep my stamina. It’s never the same as playing, but the basics, the foundation I could keep.”
He admits all was going well until a bit of a bug set him back. “Two weeks ago I got the flu for 5 days, so it was a little setback but now I feel really good. It’s not 100% fine but it’s where I feel I can play. On the pitch, I don’t feel anything. I feel strong but it’s just that little bit of fitness to go. I’ve been (at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park) long hours-in early until late-just trying to get as strong as possible. The physio’s been so good to me. Keith and the Doctor have been to my house 3 or 4 times when I was sick as well-it was unbelievable. The team has been losing a few games and you just want to get back and help.”
That attitude is something Colorado will welcome back to the pitch after Johan’s absence. Watch him play and he’s always in control, yet goes all out whether attacking and drawing defenders his way, getting stuck in on a tackle tracking back to defend, or just giving opponents something to watch and hopefully open up space for his teammates. “When I play I have to do all the runs,” he explains calmly. “Even though I’m dead tired, that’s my style to just do it, and play pretty tough. When I play I have to give 100%-nothing inbetween.”
Watch for Blomberg to possibly be slotted back in the starting 11 for Colorado as soon as this weekend. He’ll go as hard as he can for as many minutes as he can, which is all Rapids fans can ask for as the side looks to turn around a rough losing skid
“I think we’ve played well in many of the games we’ve lost,” admits Johan, who is watching the same games the fans are but with a different perspective. “In soccer when you lose a few games you get into a bad rhythm and lack a little bit of confidence. When you get a win everything turns. The details are so small. If you hesitate just a little bit that can be the whole difference. We’ve had the VAR against us the whole season-it’s crazy-just small things. I’m very confident we’ll turn it around soon.”