It has been more than three months since David Wagenfuhr last played for FC Dallas. On March 22, he played 65 minutes and scored in FCD's 2-1 win against Brazilian side Clube Atletico Paranaense.
However, on the morning after the match, Wagenfuhr informed FCD staff members that he was feeling light-headed. A test determined that he had sustained a concussion during that match, his fourth since coming to MLS in 2005.
Wagenfuhr has been out of action ever since. It was a tough blow for the versatile fourth-year player, especially considering that he had won the starting job at left wingback after a strong preseason.
On Monday, Wagenfuhr made an appearance on the training field. Still not ready to return to the pitch, he met with new head coach Schellas Hyndman and assistant John Ellinger before conversing with FCD head trainer Josh Watts.
"It's been a long time," Wagenfuhr said. "I haven't been out here since before the Brazil game, so it's been a long time."
When he left the field in March, Steve Morrow was coaching FCD. Now, the team is Hyndman's after he was hired in mid-June.
"Changes happen but I think (interim head coach) Marco (Ferruzzi) did a good job and you saw the team progressing. Schellas (Hyndman) has come in and done a great job," Wagenfuhr said. "The games are getting better. We're doing well and playing a lot better. I've known him (Hyndman) for a while because I played at Creighton when he was at SMU. I've known him since then and then while I was here, we always played SMU. He's a good coach and I like him."
Hyndman would love to have the services of Wagenfuhr, but the new FCD boss realizes that there are bigger concerns.
"I just think it's really an unfortunate thing for David," Hyndman said. "We see some great athletes have their careers cut short because of concussions. I don't think any doctor in their right mind would ever give a green light to anybody who has headaches or anything like that. We could definitely use him out here but want the best thing for his health and his family."
Always considered one of the fittest players on the FCD roster, the layoff has been rough for Wagenfuhr because his recovery prohibits him from doing much in the way of physical activity.
"It's really tough," he said. "This is probably the worst shape that I've been in my life but there's not a lot that I can do. I have to watch what I eat a little bit more since I can't work out. I won't be playing any time until after I go to the doctor again, so I will wait and see what he has to say. I have to go through a few more tests. I'm not sure when it is. Josh and I are trying to set that up."
During preseason, he and his wife had their first child and if being injured has produced one good result, it's that Wagenfuhr gets to spend a lot more quality time with his family.
"It is a blessing in disguise because I get to hang out with my baby girl and I know many people aren't lucky enough to do that," he said. "So, I've been lucky to do that but it's tough to not be able to be out here and do stuff."
Wagenfuhr's long layoff has also adversely affected his golf game. Before his injury, he was one of the more avid linksters on the roster, but that has all changed. "It's been horrible (to not be able to play golf)," he said. "I haven't played in a long time."
Since his injury, he has made a point to hang out with his teammates and to remain close with them. Wagenfuhr also watches every road game on TV and attends every home game, sitting in a suite with the other players not on the 18-man gameday roster.
"I will usually come up here once a week just to hang out with the guys, talk, play games and stuff like that," he said. "In that sense, it's still good to keep ties."
After one doctor's visit on Monday, "Wags" has to make at least one more trip for a few additional tests before he will find out something definite. Despite his long layoff, he still holds out hope that he might be able to return this year.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll see. It all depends on what the doctor says. (I really want to come back) but right now, I'm kind of in a holding pattern."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.