It was a month of seemingly poor timing for Ethan Finlay. The FIFA World Cup break came right as the Crew winger had scored goals in three out of five League matches. After drawing a key penalty against Indy Eleven in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the bad breaks continued as Finlay underwent an appendectomy, forcing him to miss the Cup match in Chicago and the Crew's return to League play against FC Dallas.
Fast forward an additional week to the winger's return at Colorado, and Finlay picked up right where he left off, scoring another goal to level the match and help the Black & Gold earn a huge road point. The Crew was glad to see his form maintained, and his health is in a great place as well.
"I feel good. The surgeon did a great job," said Finlay. "I'm happy we caught it quickly. Sometimes you have to push the limits a little bit. The first thing I tried to do was get off the pain meds and test where I was at, pain-wise. We monitored it all week. I was fortunate that I was able to get on the bike about two days after. Just kind of progressed from there, and I'm feeling good about two weeks out now."
Due to the altitude factor, Colorado isn't necessarily the easiest place to return after a layoff, but Finlay reported no concerns outside the norm.
"I don't think it was any more of a challenge than just playing in altitude, to be honest. If anything, I got to rest a little bit during that time. Obviously, the body went through the surgery, but my legs were able to rest. I didn't feel too bad. I felt a little bit of the altitude, probably around the 30th minute until half, and then got my second wind there, and I think we were able to push through. Everyone feels it different, but outside of the altitude, it was a regular game."
On one hand, the surgery occuring over the FIFA World Cup break could be construed as a positive, as it helped Finlay miss perhaps a smaller amount of League games than he otherwise might have had with a normal schedule. On the other hand, considering how hot the 2012 first-round draftee had been playing, there was always a concern that the injury could knock him off his form. Not so, according to Finlay.
"I believe in what I'm able to do and my abilities. If anything, I was worried about making sure I was connecting with guys. I think we were able to. We were unfortunate on a couple of plays [in Colorado] not to get a little bit better of a result and I think there were some sharpness things, personally from myself, that could have been a little bit better and could have resulted in an opportunity or a goal for us. Those are things that we just go back to the drawing board, look at and learn from. Besides that, I was pretty happy about it."
Now that he's back, healthy, and still scoring, Finlay's priority is to turn the Crew's recent run of draws into a run of wins.
"What we keep coming back to is that we’re playing how we want to play. We're creating the chances, we're playing good soccer. The result quite hasn’t been there, the win hasn't been there, that sharpness to defend at times for 90 minutes just quite hasn't been there.
"Personally, there's always going to be pressure. I always have high standards for myself, and the coaches do as well. For me, more, I want to win games. If my tear stops and I don't score another goal for the rest of the season, but we win 10 of the next 17, I'm going to be pretty happy about that."