From facing a near career ending knee injury to playing against Tottenham yesterday, it has been quite a long comeback in the making for team veteran Teemu Tainio.
Having last appeared for the team back in March against Montreal, the Finnish midfielder enjoyed a solid performance alongside a debuting Tim Cahill and the man who stepped up in his absence, Dax McCarty. He even managed to get stuck in on some Tottenham attacks, showing a glimpse of the player New York had relied so heavily upon in year’s past.
“It was the first game me and Tim [Cahill] played together,” he said after Tuesday’s loss to the Spurs, “and some other guys also so it’s good. The guys who could play this year have been doing great. Now we have almost everyone on the board with no injuries so I think we have great, great weeks coming that we can really look forward to.”
Tainio has been the cover boy when talking about the injury bug that has haunted this team all season long. He, along with the oft-injured Wilman Conde, played a steady role in shutting down Tottenham through the first 45 minutes.
“The first half, I didn’t think the Spurs had too many chances and in the second half they also got some fresh legs and that made a difference,” he noted. “But overall, I think everyone can be happy with the game. It was good fun for the players, and good fun for the fans.”
While taking the pitch with Cahill for the first time certainly was an impactful experience, Tainio was also quick to point out the stellar performance of another new teammate – goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
“Since Ryan got out, Bill came in and he’s been doing fantastic,” he said. “Almost everyone should be healthy now, we have two, even three great options so Hans will have some difficult choices in the coming weeks. But, Bill [Gaudette] played great again.”
Among those choices is of course Tainio, who joins a crowded midfield fighting for starting minutes. Coach Hans Backe sees the dilemma in a positive light.
“You will see every game how we try to line up but I mean to try to win the Eastern Conference, you need that depth,” the coach observed. “We have picked up so many injuries and you never know with guys like Tim Cahill and Teemu Tainio coming back, Tim from offseason, we have to manage them very well.
“Tainio we will see tomorrow how he responds after 45 but he is not a player that can play two games a week so it’s perfect with these guys.”
Fitness and injury issues aside, Tainio is simply looking forward to the next challenge. “We just have to recover from this game and get ready for Friday.