When Bobby Convey was tearing the New York defense to pieces last weekend with two goals and an assist en route to a stunning upset of the Red Bulls, you couldn’t help but notice that strange expression on his face:
There weren’t many of those over the past few years for the World Cup veteran as he frustratingly tried to come back from lingering injuries. But this past season, in leading the San Jose Earthquakes with a career-high 10 assists (five of which were game-winners) and putting on that dominant performance at Red Bull Arena, soccer has become fun for Convey again.
The 27-year-old Philadelphia native is finally back on top of his game, and his dynamite 2010 earned him MLS’ Comeback Player of the Year on Wednesday. And he freely admits it’s been blast quarterbacking the Quakes to within a game of MLS Cup.
“When you’re not worried about being injured or being sore and things like that, you can have fun,” he said Wednesday. “You’re not thinking about not getting hurt, or ‘Will I be able to play next week?’”
[inline_node:322598]Convey was a key component in helping Reading FC win promotion to the English Premier League in 2006, and he started two games for the US at that summer’s World Cup. But his momentum came to a halt that following season as a knee injury required microfracture surgery and a subsequent hamstring injury robbed him of most the explosiveness and playmaking ability that made him one of the better US national team players.
He made only 20 appearances in all competitions during the 2007-08 and ’08-09 seasons, prompting Reading to release Convey from his contract in February of last year. The former D.C. United starlet opted to return to MLS and settled in with San Jose.
But last season wasn’t kind to Convey either. He scored just one goal and added two assists for the Quakes – not a terrific showing for such a high-profile and heavily touted acquisition – as San Jose faded down the stretch and failed to make the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“For me, it was a long road back from being injured a few years ago,” he said, “and difficult mentally as well as physically because I couldn’t do anything for so long.”
This season, Convey says he feels better than he has in years. And as the expectations around him loosened and the depth of the team improved, Convey feels like he’s finally found the right match in San Jose.
“We’ve all grown up in the last year or so,” he said of the Earthquakes, who are in the postseason for the first time since their reforming in 2008. “We brought back the same guys from last year, we brought back a bunch of new players as well and everyone has really jelled together.
"It’s fun. Everyone’s basically the same age, so it’s fun to be doing things with guys you like.”
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