When Adaílton made the switch from Brazilian Série A's Esporte Clube Bahia to the Fire last December, a dream came true. When the Salvador native was forced to come to grips with an injury midway through 2015 that derailed any hopes of getting a full season under his belt, he knew it would be difficult to accomplish his objective - to renew his contract automatically.
Adaílton, 32, last featured in a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution on July 25, and first emerged with what was diagnosed as an adductor strain. He received an injection, and later underwent core muscle repair surgery on Sept. 1. Daneil Cyrus, Eric Gehrig, Ty Harden, Jeff Larentowicz and Matt Polster have all contributed at center back in his absence.
The Brazilian defender's future in MLS will be unresolved come the end of the month with regard to contract negotiations, but at the moment, he's relieved to be involved with the group again.
"The progress is going very well," said Adaílton, who has engaged in warmups and light ball work as recently as Wednesday. "I think that I just need one more week to be ready. Unfortunately, the season is over, and it was something that I was counting on. [It's been] a long time [since] I trained with the guys, and I miss that so much. ... I'm just happy to be healthy again."
Through his first year with the Men in Red, Adaílton was able to forge a competent partnership with Larentowicz - both were paired 13 times together during the regular season - and briefly with Gehrig. The results?
“When you look at statistics, and again, statistics don’t always tell the story, but they can give you a trend," interim coach Brian Bliss told reporters Tuesday via teleconference. "When he played, and whether he was paired with Jeff or whether he was paired with Eric Gehrig, our overall goals against and chances yielded was better. When he exited with his injury and surgery we definitely, on a statistical side, took a nosedive in terms of chances conceded and goals conceded. Can you pin it all on that, and him? Maybe, but he was, I would say relatively effective for us up until he got hurt."
Per Squawka.com, the numbers bear out Bliss' assertion, and a marked disparity in the Fire's defensive output with and without Adaílton's presence.
Record (W-L-D): 5-8-4 (19 points)
Average chances conceded: 119/17 games = 7 per game
Average goals conceded: 23/17 games = 1.35 goals/game
Record (W-L-D): 3-11-2 (11 points)
Average chances conceded: 160/16 games = 10 per game
Average goals conceded: 32/16 games = 2 goals/game
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With the Fire's regular season finale against Supporters' Shield contender New York Red Bulls (17-10-6, 57 points) on the horizon, Bliss said the Brazilian is not healthy and ready enough to play, however.
Asked if he envisions Adaílton, who made $244,500 in guaranteed compensation this year, according to the MLS Players' Union, as part of the team's plans come 2016, Bliss said it's possible. He has an option that could be exercised, but no concrete decisions have been made on that front.
“Could we have him back at potentially a lower number? That’s a possibility, too," Bliss answered. "Could he part completely? That’s also a possibility. He’s made a contribution here. I think he’s been effective at times, but we’ll have to evaluate that once Nelson [Rodríguez] gets on board this week, and talk through it.”
Added Adaílton, who acquired his U.S. green card earlier this month: "My wife, too, she said one thing for me this weekend, that the only time she's going to cry is when we are going to leave USA. Nothing is lost. I still hope something's going to happen. I really want to stay, [but] it doesn't depend on me. ... I cannot do anything else, just pray and wait for [the coaches'] decision."