BRIDGEVIEW, Ill - The MLS offseason means rest and recovery for many a soccer player and while he still wishes the Fire were playing, there’s probably no one that has welcomed the close season than Fire winger Patrick Nyarko.
Arguably the club’s most consistent player over the last three years, Nyarko was the most fouled player in all of MLS this season, suffering 84 offenses – 10 more than the next closest, Montreal’s Davy Arnaud.
Despite being fouled so much, the Fire veteran battled through niggling injuries the whole of the 2012 campaign, becoming one of only five field players league-wide to appear in all 34 of his club’s regular season matches.
WATCH: Quaker Journeys with Patrick Nyarko
It was also the second time in his five-year Fire career that Nyarko appeared in all of the team’s matches (2009 being the first), making him just the third player in club history after Jesse Marsch (2001, 2002) and Jim Curtin (2003, 2004) to achieve the feat across two seasons.
Still, getting on the field was a struggle at times.
“[This year] was a very difficult time,” Nyarko told Chicago-Fire.com this week. “I’m the kind of player that prides himself on getting ready through training sessions throughout the week and this year that had to be altered. I didn’t train a lot because it was more about just being healthy for the games more than anything.”
Nyarko also led the team in assists for the third consecutive season with seven, but still didn’t rank 2012 as his personal best.
“Even though the numbers are close to the same, I’d say 2010 was my best year because I stayed healthy that season. This year would be my second best. I think I played some excellent soccer and if I was fully healthy I could have produced more. I’ve had injuries in the past but I felt like this year it was different. The team needed me and I had to be there for them.”
So what ailed Patrick throughout the year?
“It was a combination of my hip, groin and hamstring,” Nyarko said. “It started building up as the games went on so at the end I was diagnosed with a strained oblique and that was the worst part of the injury. It wasn’t an easy period in my career – probably one of the most difficult getting myself up for games and trying to perform at a high level. The training staff did a great job to manage it and unfortunately I would have loved to still be playing right now but it’s all about rest and trying to get better.”
Just over a week from the playoff exit to Houston, Nyarko, like many of his teammates looks back on the end of the season with some regret.
“We’re extremely disappointed. For me and some of the guys that have been in the Conference Finals, this really wasn’t enough. I know some of the guys were in their first playoff game, so they’ll feel a certain level of accomplishment. It was good to be back in the playoffs, we feel like we can do more and deserve more. That’s soccer for you though, we didn’t play our best soccer in the last month of the season and that got to us. Notwithstanding, it was a great season we got some pieces together and going forward things look very good.”
As for his offseason plans, Nyarko will take in most of his rest in his first and second homes.
“I’m going back to Virginia for Thanksgiving to hang out with my adopted family. I’ve spent everything Thanksgiving with them since I came here so it’s always a nice time. After that I’ll head back to Ghana through the month of December. I haven’t been back since 2009 so it’ll be good to get back and see my family.”
…and get some rest.