It wasn’t easy for Jamiro Monteiro to watch from the sidelines while his teammates played without him over the last month.

It also wasn’t easy for Union fans to watch the team while he was out with a sprained ankle. The Union won just one of the four games he missed.

Monteiro finally returned to the field on Sunday, playing 34 minutes of the 5-1 win at D.C. United. On a night with lots of big storylines, this was one that shouldn’t be ignored.

“In the four weeks that I was not on the pitch, it was like hell for me,” Monteiro told The Inquirer after Sunday’s game. “I see the guys go outside, and I need to be inside to do some treatment. So for me, it was very hard. But now I’m back, I’m finally back, and I’m very happy to be back.”

The hardest thing for Monteiro to do was one of the simplest tasks of his rehab: be patient. Sprained ankles can be tricky to heal, as the Union know all too well: the team rushed Marco Fabián back from the same injury earlier this year, sidelining the Mexican star for extra games.

“You need to be very patient and be very careful,” Monteiro admitted. “If you see the tackle back, you will think I would have broke my foot that day. Thank God that did that not happen. It needed to heal, it needed some time.”

The Union already had a 3-1 lead when Monteiro took the field as a substitute in the 56th minute. By then, there wasn’t too much to do except help see the game out. Nonetheless, he ended up filling up the box score: 53 touches, 2 shots (1 on target), 1 interception and 45 of 49 passes completed.

From Monteiro’s arrival until Andrew Wooten’s departure in the 68th minute, the Union’s three biggest attacking stars were on the field together for the first time: Monteiro, Wooten and Marco Fabián. It wasn’t a long stretch of time, but it gave fans a glimpse of the team’s potential.

Although Monteiro is still relatively new to American soccer, he gets the significance of the playoff race and the pressure that comes with it.

“We have now more pressure because the points [in the standings] are not far from each other,” the Netherlands native said. “It’s on us what we do with the pressure. We just need to keep doing what we did. Like today, we need to stay in this lane and to try every [day] to do our best.”

As Sunday showed once again, it’s a lot easier for the Union to do its best when Monteiro is on the field.