KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Konrad Warzycha is still months away from playing professional soccer. That much is clear.
But as each day passes, Warzycha inches closer to returning from the femoral condyle defect in his right knee that shelved him during the preseason and relegated Sporting Kansas City’s third-round SuperDraft pick to the Injured Reserve list for the entirety of what should have been his rookie season.
After months of diligently rehabbing his injury at home in Columbus following microfracture surgery, Warzycha finally made his return to Kansas City last Thursday, rejoining his teammates as his recovery begins to ramp up.
For now, Warzycha is limited to the mundane task of running in straight lines while his teammates train nearby. Eventually, Sporting’s training staff will mix in change of direction, ball work and, further down the line, a return to contact.
If all goes as planned, Warzycha, whose father Robert played in MLS and now coaches their hometown Columbus Crew, hopes to be primed and ready for a return to full action by the time training camp rolls around next spring.
More than six months since he suffered the injury, MLSsoccer.com sat down with Warzycha to talk about his road back to the field.
MLSsoccer.com: It’s good to see you in Kansas City. How does it feel to be back with the team and a little more in the swing of things?
Warzycha: It feels pretty good. It’s great to be back with the team and everything and back in Kansas City finally.
MLSsoccer.com: How have the last six months treated you? It must have been a lot of hard work trying to grind through rehabbing the injury.
Warzycha: Yeah, I was just doing lots of rehab. It was every day, Monday through Friday. Just taking it slow, day-by-day and trying to get back to a long-term goal of eventually getting back to playing.
MLSsoccer.com: Femoral condyle defect isn’t something most people have a ton of experience with. You suffered the injury during a preseason game, but not a lot of other specific information came out at the time. What happened?
Warzycha: I didn’t feel it pop or anything happen. My right knee just swelled up after the game. I got an MRI the next day and found out there was some torn cartilage. So I had microfracture surgery, where they pretty much poke holes in the bone where the cartilage broke off, let a blood clot form then allow it to turn into cartilage. It takes a while for that to happen so that’s what has kind of been holding me back I guess.
MLSsoccer.com: You mentioned you had surgery to repair a torn ACL previously, but this scenario certainly seems a little more daunting. How did you deal with having your career thrown into limbo just as it was set to begin?
Warzycha: It definitely hit me hard at first. I didn’t take the news so well from the doctor. I was bummed out. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I was just kind of scrambling around thinking the worst possible thing. But things worked out. A couple weeks later, I kind of thought over the positives, I guess. That’s what helped me out.
MLSsoccer.com: What kept you going during the rehab process? Any specific motivations?
Warzycha: Just getting back to doing what I love. That’s playing soccer. Just kind of looking forward to one day getting back to where I was.
MLSsoccer.com: Did your dad have any advice for you?
Warzycha: He’s never been through it so he couldn’t speak from first-hand experience, but he knows a lot of players that have gone through it. I’ve talked to Duncan Oughton, who used to play with the Crew and had the same kind of injury. He helped me out.
MLSsoccer.com: Duncan continued playing so one would assume the prognosis is pretty good. Do you expect to be able to get back to where you were before from a physical standpoint?
Warzycha: Yeah. At first, I was kind of like nobody has this surgery except for basketball players. But after talking to a couple guys, I found out there are quite a few guys who’ve had it and they’re still playing. That helped me out a lot.
MLSsoccer.com: Kansas City still signed you to a contract even after the injury occurred and the time needed for recovery was known. Was it nice from a personal standpoint to see Sporting keep the faith in you so to speak and make a commitment even in light of everything?
Warzycha: Definitely. That’s one of the things that kept me going and one of the positives that I looked at to kind of get me through rehab.