"Torn superior retinaculum." Before Sunday afternoon these words would seem like jibberish but after Rochester's game against visiting Richmond Kickers I spoke with Tyler Rudy about his injured ankle.
The defensive midfielder has played well for the Rhinos in his minutes this season in USL. Rudy didn't play the first game but was an option off the bench for the next three matches before playing a full 90 minutes against Saint Louis. Rudy suffered a concussion at Wilmington on May 16 and missed two matches for Rochester.
Discounting the time he was being treated for concussion, Rudy played in 14 of a potential 17 games, starting 6 times. Rochester head coach Bob Lilley has only had positives to say about the rookie defensive midfielder and the team will be lacking without the talented player after Christian Silva suffered a torn ACL earlier in the season.
After Sunday's game, I spoke at length with Tyler Rudy about his injury and his time in Rochester. He began by explaining what a torn superior retinaculum meant.
"It's the tissue that holds the two ligaments together in the ankle. So that's torn, so the ligaments are kind of coming out and as they come over it's ripping more. Essentially I spoke to the doctors in New England and the gameplan is to wear the boot for 7 weeks." Rudy was wearing a toe to knee velcro boot while we talked.
"There's a 50/50 chance it heals on its own. But if not, surgery is required. We've been waiting because they couldn't have operated anyway because of the swelling and the trauma from the injury." With a heavy sigh Rudy said, "I'm just basically back here [in Rochester] to move out. I'm going back. I'm leaving tomorrow; pretty much for good."
Rudy outlined that the best he could hope for is 7 weeks in the boot before he is reevaluated for surgery. Those 7 weeks make up the remaining 7 games of the USL regular season for Rochester. Then Rudy speculated on 3 or 4 weeks to get fit and healthy in the absolute best case scenario, by which point the Rhinos would either be in the league final or in the offseason.
"The initial injury was against Charlotte Independence. It was me going against either Alex or Enzo Martinez; it was a 50/50. I had to come out after it happened. I came off and my ankle was bruised and I felt like it was just a normal sprain. I did rehab here and was training. We played on Sunday and I trained Friday and Saturday and felt great. And then immediately after I went in Sunday off the bench [against Charleston] and my first cut I felt it. I felt like, This isn't right at all."
With an expression between a smile and a grimace, Rudy continued to recount the aggravation of his injury against the Battery. "I took a few more steps and I kept feeling a click or a sliding of the ligaments in my ankle. It was just discomfort. It was weird. I said, I can't really go anymore. And they pretty much diagnosed it because there's pretty much only one thing it could have been, just based on the feeling I was having."
"I got an indirect diagnosis from Doug [Graham, Rochester's Head Trainer] and a doctor here on the sideline, no MRI or anything. So then I flew back to New England the next morning, they got me on a flight back. I saw a doctor right away and that was the official diagnosis there based on the MRI."
"It's basically a season-ender, which is unfortunate," Rudy noted with a hint of resignation. "I haven't ever really had a big-time injury like this. I've been lucky so far in my entire playing career. It happens to everyone but it's unfortunate and I'm trying to stay positive." Despite the serious injury, Rudy is looking on the bright side. "It's a little difficult but it happens. I had a great experience here, definitely."
Shifting slightly, Rudy responded that he hadn't held contract talks with the Revolution regarding next season. "I've spoken to my agent a little bit about it and I think things are positive. I think they I thought I did well here and I think they see me as kind of like... I wouldn't say a project, but someone they want to develop." Rudy mentioned other players who have been given a chance to grow by the Revolution, "guys they trust are coachable and will grow in their system."
"But there haven't been any official talks, I don't think that'll happen for a good few months but I'm just gonna keep working hard and trying to get back to full fitness. I think I've done what I can. I'm hoping they liked what they saw and they'll take a chance to keep me around. I'm really hoping they do."
"I'll probably be back here next year if they pick up the option. We'll see," Rudy laughed.
Hopefully Tyler Rudy is back fit and playing professional soccer next summer, whether that's in New England, Rochester, or anywhere else.