Red Bulls’ forward Mac Kandji sat at the lounge in Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon during the US-England viewing party, smiling, posing for photos and signing everything placed in front of him as he waited for the game to kick off. What made it easier for Kandji, who suffered a right foot injury last month in training, is that he is close to getting back on the field.
Kandji revealed to MLSsoccer.com that his rehab is well underway after successful surgery and that last week marked an important milestone in yet another comeback from injury for the player.
“A few days ago, I began running. It was good to get back out there again,” said Kandji, who added that his recovery is advancing much faster than expected after originally being expected to return in late July or August.
Kandji is optimistic that he can push the time frame forward and return perhaps a month ahead of schedule, but right now he is more than happy to be in “heaven” watching the World Cup unfold on the continent of his home country Senegal.
“It is great to see what South Africa is doing, such a great start to the World Cup,” Kandji said. “It brings all of us from Africa a lot of joy. I hope maybe an African team can win it or maybe go very far.”
Kandji said that he was impressed with the resilience shown by South Africa in the tournament’s opener and also gives thumbs up to Nigeria despite dropping a 1-0 result to Argentina.
He also added that the teams to watch out for are Spain and Argentina —“Messi is unbelievable, Tevez is a bulldog.”
The cup is also a chance for the Red Bulls attacker to watch his favorite player, Thierry Henry, for perhaps the last time on the world stage.
Idol, and maybe future teammate.
“When I heard there was a chance he might come to [New York], I was very happy,” Kandji said. “I’ve heard the rumors and I hope he comes here.”
Last year, talk began to circulate around Kandji himself. A creative and attacking force up top for the Red Bulls, it was said that he might be an intriguing option for the national team, either the US’ or Senegal’s, as he’s eligible for both.
As Kandji stood along with the crowd of over 700 at Red Bull Arena to watch the US match, he stood still during the national anthem. With hand over his heart, he quietly sang along, looking at the television with a distant gaze. Maybe someday, Kandji will get that chance to hear the anthem played as he stands on the pitch representing the US National Team in international play.
“I would like to play for the United States,” he said. “I owe this country so much and I’ve been given so much here. It would be an honor to play for the United States.
“I can also play for Senegal, but I haven’t decided yet. Right now, I just want to get back on the field for the Red Bulls.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed on Twitter @kdyer1012.
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