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“You can only play so many board games:” Ethan Finlay on his return to soccer

Finlay reflects on his time away from the game and looks forward to working his way into the starting 11.

Ethan Finlay during a stoppage as Minnesota United host Atlanta United on 3/31/18
Tim McLaughlin

On a spring morning on the outdoor turf at the National Sports Center, winger Ethan Finlay stays late after training to take some shots on goal with some of his teammates. Screams echo across the field after shots are taken, and the sense of joy is felt across the complex as the sun begins to shine down.

In late April of 2018, Ethan Finlay tore his ACL in a road loss to Seattle, after starting the season strong with two goals and one assist. For the next nine months Finlay would work toward a single goal: recovery.

The nine months away from soccer proved to be a challenge and blessing at once for Finlay. “You have to kind of keep yourself busy, I would say a little bit, off the field,” he explained. As much as Finlay may have wanted, physical therapy and rehab with the trainers cannot take all day. “I found myself on weekends, everything I was waiting for was to watch a soccer game at seven o'clock at night on [Fox Sports North].”

A gap in his life appeared. He found himself thinking about and watching soccer more than he ever had. “I know my wife is [excited for me to be playing again]. I think I was driving her nuts, just talking about soccer as much as I did because I couldn't really play the game.”

The gap for him was never going to be filled until he was playing again, but he had several methods to fill the time. “I was involved in a Harvard Business School class that I tried to do, pick up a book here and there more than I did, trying to find things outside of the game.”

The time off was not all bad, though. “I think it gave me a lot of perspective. It was a little bit nice to take almost a step back from having the everyday grind.”

“But I did miss the camaraderie of the guys, and just out here playing five versus two,” he said. “The competitiveness is what drives me; you can only play so many board games until someone quits playing with you.”

MNUFC Training
MNUFC Training 3/26/2019
Tim C McLaughlin

Finlay looks to make the jump into the starting 11, but more importantly looks to help the team. “I look at the schedule right away, and we’ll be at Seattle the last game of the year, so that'll be hopefully a game that has something on the line and to be back in that one will be fun.”

Finlay seems to be enjoying soccer more than ever before, which is a great sign for Minnesota United. One of their wingers is back, and he’s ready as ever to help his team.