Bobby Convey’s first season with Sporting Kansas City was frustrating.
Convey, a left winger with a reputation for pinpoint service into the box, was the centerpiece of Sporting KC’s offseason acquisitions entering the 2012 campaign and the early returns were promising, including a club-record seven-match win streak to kick off the season.
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By late May, however, Convey was injured.
He played more than eight minutes in a match only twice after May 19 and failed the make the impact he and Sporting KC hoped for when he was acquired via trade from the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Absolutely, he was frustrated last year,” coach Peter Vermes said. “How could he not be? When he was in on a full-time basis, at one point we were 7-0. I know it was very difficult for him, but I think he’s energized and proven in the offseason that he’s back and wants to be playing. He’s ready to go.”
Convey, 29, never doubted that he could bounce back, but the fact that he arrived for preseason in impeccable shape hints at the fire he has to bury last season’s frustrations.
“The soccer part has always been there,” Convey said. “You don’t play for as long as I have if you need confidence. There’s a lot of ups and downs in a pro career, so you’ve got to have a level head throughout everything — never get too high and never get too low. Obviously, last year was one of those years where you don’t get too low, but I’ve used it as motivation to get better in the offseason.”
Convey struggled with calf and hamstring issues throughout last summer, but part of the lingering trouble was a misdiagnosis of his initial injury.
“I actually tore my hamstring, but we thought it was just a strain,” Convey said. “That’s why I kept getting injured (last year). My muscles were overcompensating, but once we figured it out in the offseason, I was able to do the right treatment and move forward. That’s why I’m fit again.”
Boy, is he fit these days.
Convey has been among Sporting KC’s most impressive performers in the preseason, especially since the club kicked off the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Kissimmee, Fla.
Against D.C. United in the second game of Group A pool play, Convey boomed in a 20-yard rocket for the game-winning goal in 2-0 victory.
It was an impressive strike, but it was Convey’s constant pressure and frenetic play along the left side that made the goal stand out even more. He easily was Sporting KC’s man of the match.
Looking forward to the 2013 season, with Sporting KC trying to win a third straight Eastern Conference regular-season crown and defend its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, Convey is viewed as a potential difference-maker.
Having Convey healthy for an entire season could prove to be as important as adding forward Claudio Bieler as the third Designated Player in club history or trading for playmaking midfielder Benny Feilhaber in the chase for a strong CONCACAF Champions’ League showing as well as that elusive MLS Cup.
“He does the same thing that Zeus (midfielder Graham Zusi) does,” Vermes said. “He’s a guy that can put a pause in the game and can play-make from that position. He’s got very good accuracy with his service. That’s where Bobby can be very effective, so if he’s on, that’s going to be a big help to us.”
Convey said he’s in as good of shape as he’s ever been entering a season, so he’s excited about what the season has in store. He’s even set some lofty personal goals.
“With the All-Star Game being in Kansas City, I’d love to play in that in front of my family and in front of our fans,” Convey said. “It would be a great thing to play in.”