Bobby Convey retreated to the locker room at the Sporting Kansas City training facility to fetch a T-shirt with a team logo Thursday before the weekly meet-and-greet with the press.
When he emerged, Convey wore dark-tinted, horn-rimmed sunglasses and a light blue Sporting KC hard hat in addition to the fresh gray team-approved T-shirt.
The room erupted in laughter as Convey sat down with a wide smile, before tossing the hat to a member of Sporting KC’s public relations team.
It was a side of Convey rarely seen publicly during previous MLS stops with D.C. United and the San Jose Earthquakes, but it provides further proof Convey, a lethal left-footed forward has settled in comfortably with his new club.
“Here, everything is great,” Convey said. “Everything really is set up for us to do well as players. When you’re put in that situation, you can be who you are and there is no negative energy surrounding you.”
Convey, who netted his first goal with Sporting KC last week in Chicago, insists he’s always been a goofy, understated guy.
The “Follow Friday with Bobby Convey” episodes that have popped up on Sporting KC’s YouTube channel in recent weeks also paint a picture of a player finally at peace.
“Throughout my career I’ve always been more serious when I play and at times maybe it seems I’m not enjoying myself, but that’s how I’ve always played,” said Convey, who turns 29 on May 27. “I don’t normally do media and I don’t do Twitter, so people don’t really know who I am. But this is who I am here.”
A self-described T-shirt and jeans guy, Convey was even comfortable bantering for a few minutes about his extensive shoe collection.
“I’ve been sponsored by Nike since I was 14,” Convey said. “That’s a long time, so I have probably 200 pairs of shoes or something like that. But I give them away. Wherever I’m at, the guys who don’t have deals, I usually give them away. They come to my house and take them.”
Seemingly settled in personally and professionally, Convey’s on-field comfort will be tested against the Rapids at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado.
That’s because the players he’s developed the most chemistry with roving along the left side may not be on the field at kickoff.
Midfielder Roger Espinoza is suspended for the game after picking up a red card in the 2-1 loss to the Fire last Saturday, while Seth Sinovic remains questionable as he continues to recover from a broken hand.
“I’m mulling over a couple things, but he’s definitely in the 18,” manager Peter Vermes said of Sinovic. “He hasn’t been in the 18 the last two games, but that I can confirm.”
The loss of Espinoza presents a bigger hurdle.
“I think Roger and I have really played well together and it’s easy for me to play with him, because we have the same style,” Convey said.
“It’s a difficult loss, because he’s done so well throughout the season and he’s a good player. He’s a left-footed guy on the left side. We don’t necessarily have another left-footed guy who plays in the middle, so we’ll have to tweak it a little.”
The most likely candidate to replace Espinoza in the starting lineup would be veteran Paulo Nagamura, but Vermes, as is the norm, didn’t want to tip his hand.
“We have a few guys in (Luke) Sassano, (Paulo) Nagamura or we could put (Lawrence) Olum in there,” Vermes said. “We have a few guys and I feel we have good replacements, but they’re not exactly him, so we’re going to be a little different. But that’s OK, because they bring something they are strong at as well.”
Still, there isn’t another Espinoza on the roster.
“I don’t know how else to say it, but Roger’s a beast,” Vermes said. “Roger gets stronger and stronger as the game goes along. His physical presence, from that point of view, is very difficult to replace. He also has a winner’s mentality.”