Absence from the pitch made Bobby Convey’s heart grow fonder — even with regards to playing left back.
After dropping out of the San Jose Earthquakes starting lineup for five matches due to a left knee contusion, Convey started Saturday against Real Salt Lake. And the fact that Convey was plugged in at left back — a position for which he vented his distaste on multiple occasions during the last two seasons — didn’t upset him in the least.
“Either position I play is fine,” Convey told MLSsoccer.com by phone last week. “As long as we’re doing well.”
Is this really the same Bobby Convey who just last month said he didn’t think he could “justify my salary … standing around at left back”?
“I guess it is softening up about [playing left back], but sitting out, you just realize you want to play,” said Convey, who started at left back for the US national team at times during the 2006 World Cup cycle. “There’s no point in being miserable about it. I just want to get back playing.”
Convey’s conversion was cemented following a meeting with Quakes coach Frank Yallop, who has started Convey on the wing only once since April.
“Whatever the coach — who’s in charge of the players — whatever he thinks you’re good at, you’ve got to embrace it,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “We talked about it. It’s like, ‘Clear your mind. Whatever I say you do, just do it, because I’m putting you in spots I know you can play and play well at.’”
Convey said that he spoke earlier out of frustration at the Quakes’ slow start, which has been exacerbated by the team’s current 0-3-5 run.
“For me, I was just more disappointed we weren’t doing as well as last year,” Convey said. “I just wanted to get back to how it was last year, and we weren’t winning as many games. I was thinking if we played the same positions we played last year, we’d win more games like last year. Talking to Frank, he pointed out we won a lot of games with me in the back.”
Convey will have a busy week as one of San Jose’s two representatives — the other being Chris Wondolowski — on the MLS All-Star team. Eyebrows were raised when New York coach Hans Backe named Convey to the team even before he had returned from the knee injury, suffered in a collision with teammate Bobby Burling while facing the LA Galaxy on June 25.
The 28-year-old Convey admitted he was “definitely surprised” to get a call from Backe to join the MLS side slated to face Manchester United in Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
“When you’re sitting out two-and-a-half weeks injured, you’re away from everyone, doing your own treatment,” Convey said. “You don’t really expect too much. You don’t expect to get back into training, let alone get into the All-Star Game. I’m really excited to be going.”
Part of that excitement stems from the fact that Convey’s family will get to see him play this year — it was hard for them to make it out to Houston on short notice last season — and also the simple joy of no longer watching from the stands.
“When you sit out, you don’t just see it from your own perspective,” Convey said. “All the fans would ask me when I’m going to be back. … You kind of change your attitude a little bit, because you realize just being on the field and playing well is what the team needs.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes