CARSON, Calif. -- Jimmy Conrad (pictured above) got a chance to return to Kansas City, but not in the way that he may have imagined.
The veteran defender, who has not played since suffering a concussion March 26 against the Colorado Rapids, served as an assistant coach for Chivas USA during last week’s match against Sporting Kansas City. With assistant Carlos Llamosa on assignment in Colombia, Conrad was able to slide in and provide guidance for the developing Rojiblancos.
Whether it’s providing tips during training or guidance during the match, Conrad has been eager to give whatever help he can to Chivas USA during his injury.
“He’s working through his issues with his concussion, and he’s got so much experience for us that he’s able to lend another pair of seasoned and experienced eyes,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “So, with us, he’s been doing whatever it is that we ask him to do and he’s been extremely valuable to us.”
After being picked up by Chivas in the offseason from Kansas City where he spent the past eight years, the veteran defender expected to be a key in the club’s development in 2011. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
One match after scoring a goal against Sporting KC in the season opener, Conrad collided with the fist of Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens and has not seen the field since. He has launched many unsuccessful attempts to return to action, but has struggled to deal with his injury.
This has been extremely frustrating for the fiercely competitive Conrad, but returning to Kansas City provided a small silver lining for him. Although he wasn’t able to step on to the field, Conrad still felt the good wishes from the city where he had spent a great deal of his career.
“I was definitely feeling the love. I saw a banner that said I still have a posse in Kansas City,” said Conrad. “It means a lot. It was great to be showered by their affection, and if I were smart I would probably come back and run for mayor.”
It was particularly special for Conrad that he was able to visit LiveStrong Park, a stadium that he was instrumental lobbying for during his years in Kansas City. Following the match, Conrad was full of praise for the new park and was not afraid to admit that it may be the best US stadium in which to play.
“I feel like I played a very, very small part in getting it built. I did a lot of work with the politicians, but it’s great for Kansas City and it’s something the fans deserve,” Conrad told reporters after the match. “I play in the Home Depot Center now and that used to be the premier place to play, but this has definitely raised the bar.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano