PORTLAND, Ore. – And things were going so well for Franck Songo’o.
The Cameroon international burst onto the scene during the Portland Timbers preseason with four assists in his first four games, earned a contract with the team and likely grabbed a spot in the starting lineup.
But on Feb. 23 in a scrimmage against Oregon State University, the 24-year-old midfielder suffered a right knee injury. And shortly after that, he was forced to return to Spain, where he has played since 2008, to finalize his visa.
He returned to Portland ahead of the team’s regular-season opener March 12 against Philadelphia but only resumed full training Monday after the team’s return from Saturday’s game at FC Dallas.
“I’m feeling good,” Songo’o told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session at JELD-WEN Field. “I’ve been out for a long time. I’m trying to get fit and come back and now try to do good work this weekend, which is good.”
Before the injury and his departure from the team, Songo’o appeared to be a lock for one of the midfield wing positions. He collected two assists in the Timbers’ 4-1 defeat of the LA Galaxy on Feb. 7 and two more in a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Feb. 15.
“Certainly it was a little break that I didn’t want to do,” Songo’o said of his setback. “Everything was going great. I was getting fit; I was getting there. But, you know, I was injured. And the thing you have to do is to get time and come back to be good for the rest of the season.”
Now, however, with the solid play of Kalif Alhassan, who was named MLS Player of the Week after a goal and assist in the Timbers’ 3-1 opening night win against Philadelphia, and Eric Alexander on the two wings, Songo’o’s starting spot certainly isn’t assured just yet.
Timbers head coach John Spencer expects Songo’o to play 15 to 20 minutes in the club’s game on Saturday at Gillette Stadium against the Revolution.
“It’s kind of a nice thing when you look down the bench to see a player of his quality and be able to come back in the game and give you some minutes,” Spencer said. “He’s starting to feel more confident in the injury, and he’s got over it. And now he’s just starting to get his feet beneath him and get going again.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.