Mason Trafford was the name you forgot when talking about Cavalry FC and their impressive run in May.
Undefeated through seven matches in all competitions, the Cavs looked especially impressive at the back, with Dominick Zator, Jonathan Wheeldon and others creating a red wall other CPL sides struggled to penetrate.
Trafford, Cavalry’s pre-season defending centrepiece, was absent from that early-season defending success, out with an injury sustained in pre-season. The former Miami FC defender returned to action on Tuesday in his side’s 1-1 draw with Forge FC in their Canadian Championship first leg tie.
“A little bit of anxiousness knowing how well our team is doing and I wanted to keep that run going,” Trafford admitted. “It’s been a long year, it’s June now, right, and I haven’t played a game.”
And rightly so. The 32-year-old, who wore the captain’s armband on Tuesday, was touted as one of the league’s top centre-backs in pre-season. There he was, coming into a side that was spotless without him.
Perhaps that uneasiness was the reason behind a so-so return for Cavalry’s rock of a centre-back. Some of his good work, such a lovely touch to control a nearly-chest-high cross in the first half, was overshadowed by a few mistakes, including a costly second-half giveaway that nearly gave Forge a second goal.
He did lead his side in duels won (four) and aerial duels won (three), all without committing a foul.
“I don’t think it was necessarily a vintage performance,” Trafford admitted. “It was good to shake the rust off there, I’ve only been back in training for a week.
“It just felt good to log 90 minutes and, you know, I’m still here. I’m not injured again.”
Trafford and Jose Escalante’s return to competitive action this week didn’t clear Cavalry’s injury books, however.
Cavs midfielder Nik Ledgerwood missed Tuesday’s match with a leg injury. He’s expected to miss “a few games” because of it.
The Cavs will host Forge on Tuesday in the second leg of their CanChamp second round tie (June 11/9:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. MT, on OneSoccer).