It had been nearly two months since Orlando City’s captain and veteran center back Jonathan Spector had taken the pitch. After suffering two consecutive concussions, Spector has been on a long road to recovery. On Wednesday night, he was finally able to rejoin his team, playing 45 minutes and wearing the captain’s armband in their U.S. Open Cup victory in Miami.
“It felt great. I felt good,” said Spector following the match. “It’s even better that it was capped with a good team performance, a win and a birth into the next round.”
With a busy stretch of games on the horizon for Orlando City’s, getting in some match minutes was key for Spector.
“Center back is a position you don’t really want to change unless you absolutely have to during a game,” noted Spector. “So it’s pretty important that I’m fully match fit for 90 minutes and I do think I am close to that. I think it was probably a smart decision to get 45 minutes under my belt here and continue to move forward."
Spector’s impact on the pitch was felt immediately. From the back, he contributed in the build up to Stéfano Pinho’s goal that starting the scoring. For the captain, it wasn’t just about conditioning.
“I wasn’t here just to get minutes, I wanted to contribute. It’s good to get on the score sheet in that fashion.”
His leadership in defense stood out to head coach Jason Kreis.
“He’s a terrific leader. You can hear him communicating back there and trying to organize. I was really happy to get him back involved and hopefully we can move forward now.”
As frustrating as his absence may have been, it’s something that Jonathan Spector has learned to deal with over the years.
"It’s part of the game. You get used to it. I just felt really good, comfortable. Really happy to be back.”
We’ll see if Spector makes another appearance in the starting lineup as Orlando City embarks on a two-game Canadian road swing in Vancouver and Montreal.