Crew SC | Gaston Sauro re-signs while recovering from leg injuryThe Columbus Dispatch, Ohio — Andrew Erickson The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
Jan. 12--First, Gaston Sauro was told he had only a 50 percent chance of playing soccer again, which was hard on the mind. Next, he underwent surgery to receive a cartilage donation, and the months of recovery were hard on his left leg.
These days, training his way back to full speed is hard on Sauro's lungs, but it's the good kind of pain.
"It's a hard part, too, but it's the nicer part," Sauro said.
Sauro said he has learned to take things day by day during a length recovery process, and Thursday was a good day. Crew SC announced that it has re-signed the 27-year-old center back from Argentina, extending his tenure with the team into a fourth season.
Acquired during the summer transfer window in 2015, Sauro produced an outstanding finish to the 2015 season as the Crew reached the MLS Cup final. He suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in May 2016 and received a plasma-rich platelet injection to aid the recovery process.
He returned to the field that September but found out in October he had suffered cartilage damage, also known as a chondral defect, that ended his 2016 season and gave him that 50 percent chance of playing again.
Sauro waited five months for a cartilage donor before undergoing surgery and later an additional surgery to clean out an infection in his knee. He did not return to the field in 2017 but spent the season slowly progressing through rehab, with the idea of returning in 2018.
Crew coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said the team wanted Sauro back, too.
"With the salary structure, it's just, 'How do you work that out?'" Berhalter said.
Sauro made $601,312 in 2017, according to data from the players union. Berhalter did not divulge a specific contract figure but confirmed that Sauro took a pay cut to stay.
Sauro finished the 2017 season training with a physical therapist but said he started 2018 training with Crew players who are staying in Columbus before preseason workouts begin, doing the same drills as everyone else in their past four training sessions.
"I'm happy about that because I didn't think I was going to feel as well as I'm feeling now," Sauro said. "The first two trainings, I was thinking a lot about the knee and the reaction, but the last two trainings, I was doing much better."
Sauro's timetable for returning to game action is not immediately clear, Berhalter said. At full health, Sauro is expected to compete for time in a center-back group that includes designated player Jonathan Mensah, veteran Josh Williams and second-year players Alex Crognale and Lalas Abubakar.
Sauro said he never thought this offseason about changing clubs and instead remained focused on recovery.
"I have to continue growing my confidence, and I'm happy to be with a club where everybody knows me, and I know the city and love the city," Sauro said. "I wish to have a great year."
The Crew also announced on Thursday it has re-signed No. 3 goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2017. The Crew declined Ketterer's option after the 2017 season but did so with the intent of bringing him back once the reserve roster had been sorted out, Berhalter said.
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