SANDY, Utah — By this time, Cody Arnoux was supposed to be a fixture for a contenting team. The young striker had been a prolific scorer at Wake Forest, one of the top teams in college soccer, before spending time with Everton's reserves.
But a knee injury in February derailed those plans. It kept Arnoux off the field for seven months — until this past Saturday, when the Real Salt Lake lottery acquisition finally paid dividends as he made his debut for the Claret-and-Cobalt against the Philadelphia Union.
Arnoux has spent much of 2011 recovering from surgery, a process that was prolonged when the striker picked up a knock on his other knee.
In the last several weeks, Arnoux was been training with the team fully, and was rewarded with a 24-minute run-out against Philly.
“Cody’s a player that I think has a real fighting mentality,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. “It’s the one thing that I’ve observed of him over the past couple of weeks now that he’s been fully fit and healthy, is that he’s a guy that will give you everything he’s got. So I think he came on and did exactly that, and that’s exactly what we needed. He was dangerous and created a couple of things for us.”
Arnoux, for his part, was just glad to be back on the field.
“Obviously, it felt great,” Arnoux said after the match. “When you are out of competitive matches for ten months and finally get a chance to get in there it always feels good. It’s been a long time, so I almost forget how it feels to be out there playing.”
In addition to his one season with Everton, Arnoux played for the USSF D-2 Vancouver Whitecaps in 2010. In a new environment, he admitted that there is “definitely a lot of getting used to [his teammates],” particularly coming back from the injury.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m fully healthy yet,” he admitted. “My touch still isn’t anywhere close to where it should be or where it needs to be.”
Arnoux admitted that some absences in the squad were partly responsible for his appearance. But training with the team earned him time on the field, and he says the only thing left to do is continue training and be ready when called upon.
“I did do a few things defensively and, you know, got us a couple of free kicks,” the 23-year old striker said of his performance against Philadelphia. “You know it’s always good — I’ve never contributed for this team, really. It felt good to finally be a contributor. I think that’s more what I’m buzzing about.”