Blair Gavin was forced to think about life after soccer early this year.
The free-agent midfielder was expected to join the Sounders in preseason, but a car accident before he could report resulted in a serious back injury. Gavin, a former top-10 draft pick, was unsure if he’d ever be able to play again — at just 24 years old.
“It just kind of felt like the whole world was against me,” he said. “I didn’t think (my back) was all right. I thought the easier way would just go and maybe start coaching or go back to college.”
It was a love of the game that brought Gavin back.
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He saw doctors and began the rehab process. He started training again in California and ultimately went to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he played a season from May through July in the amateur Premier Development League, the fourth tier of American soccer.
Once healthy, a familiar team called: Sounders FC. Gavin signed last week after a short training stint.
Call it a second chance.
“I think I have a lot to give to the game still,” Gavin said. “I’m young, I’m 24, so I think there’s a lot of time for me to grow and fill those expectations I had from a long time ago.”
Coach Sigi Schmid described Gavin as a player of interest in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, when the midfielder was a top prospect coming out of the powerhouse of Akron University.
Gavin was taken by Chivas USA at No. 10 overall, one pick before Seattle’s.
Gavin played for Chivas USA until he was traded to New England during the 2012 season. He became a free agent after last season.
Schmid indicated it could be a bit before Gavin makes an impact.
“If we can get something from him this season, great, but (the signing) is a little more with an eye toward next season,” said Schmid, who praised the midfielder’s vision and feel for the game. “I just think he needs to get back into day-to-day training with an MLS team to get back to the level and the point where he was at.”
Patience shouldn’t be a problem, not after months of rebuilding earned its reward.
It’s clear in how Gavin described his pro career to date: “A lot of optimism, and then a lot of injuries have come and kind of crushed that, unfortunately. I think it’s part of the game and part of life, but I think I’ve rebounded very well each time and keep jumping up and keep fighting back.”
Timbers defender Pa Modou Kah had a number of crunching tackles in Sunday’s rivalry game against the Sounders — one of which earned a yellow card — but the hits kept coming after the 1-0 loss. He particularly targeted Seattle designated player Clint Dempsey.
“He’s the best player in MLS?” Kah told OregonLive.com. “If he’s the best … I’ve seen much, much better in Europe.”
Kah, who has played in Norway and Holland, later added: “If he was so good, he would still be with Tottenham.”
• New England midfielder Kelyn Rowe, a Federal Way native, has been named MLS player of the week for a dazzling two-goal display in Sunday’s 5-1 win against Philadelphia.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers