KANSAS CITY, Mo. — His coaches and teammates routinely call him the heart and soul of the team, but Davy Arnaud is feeling a little disconnected these days.
Three weeks after undergoing sports-hernia surgery, Arnaud finally began jogging this week, circling the training sessions he desperately wants to be a part of in tennis shoes as he works to return to the squad in time for the stretch run.
Fortunately for Arnaud, he has the benefit of watching from the sidelines as Sporting Kansas City go through what could be the best run in franchise history. Sporting are undefeated in 12-consecutive games, a feat that has put the club in position to make some real noise in the race for the playoffs and even the Eastern Conference title.
MLSsoccer.com caught up with Arnaud on Wednesday to talk about his rehab, Kansas City’s current success and the happenings around the club since his injury.
MLSsoccer.com: First of all, how do you feel? How is rehab going?
Arnaud: I’m feeling good. Wednesday was three weeks since the surgery. This is around the time that they wanted me to start jogging again so I’m right on track in terms of that. I’ve been jogging for the past couple days and just moving more on the elliptical and stuff. It has been going well so far.
MLSsoccer.com: When Omar Bravo had the procedure earlier this year, the return date thrown around was 6-8 weeks. What kind of timeline are you on and when do you hope to be back contributing on the field?
Arnaud: We’re talking to the doctor on a weekly basis and letting him know how the week went. If everything keeps moving along at this pace, I’m hoping to be back in training in a couple of weeks. It’s hard to say right now.
It’s something that I want to be doing. I want to be involved as quickly as possible, but, at the same time, you want to make sure that you’re healthy and don’t risk injuring yourself again trying to come back to early. I’m on schedule as of now, though, so that’s good.
MLSsoccer.com: Seeing your teammates have success makes being out a little easier, but we know you’re a guy that constantly wants to be on the field. How difficult is it for you to watch from the sidelines?
Arnaud: I don’t think there is anything tougher, honestly. You want to be out there with the guys, battling with them and training with them every day. It is a little bit of a different feeling. You don’t feel like you’re as much a part of the group as you were before.
I think it’s a natural feeling for anybody that goes through an injury in the middle of the year. This is the first time I’ve really experienced it, where I’ve had an injury that has kept me out for any significant amount of time in the middle of the season. It’s not easy, man. I would definitely like to be involved, but I’m a big cheerleader right now. I’m doing whatever I can.
MLSsoccer.com: It must be hard for you to watch, but obviously the guys have been playing well and you helped start this streak. Is there a little solace in the fact that the team is hitting its stride at the right time to put Kansas City in a good position for when you do get back?
Arnaud: For sure. Over the past 12 games now being unbeaten, it’s put us in a really good spot. We’re not too far off from not just the playoff contenders, but the top of our conference. If we can keep our good home form going and get some wins under our belts in the coming week or two, I think you can see us right up there at the top of the conference. There is no reason why we can’t be. We’ve done the hard work to put ourselves in this spot, but we have to keep it going.
MLSsoccer.com: What changed for this team? Obviously, starting on the road was difficult, but you’ve been solid home and away for awhile now.
Arnaud: What actually started this great streak of result is everything we do is team-oriented. That starts defensively. I feel like everybody is working for each other defensively and sharing responsibilities going forward. We’ve done a really good job with those things on both sides of the ball.
MLSsoccer.com: Matt Besler just finished up his first All-Star Game appearance. He’s a guy you’ve seen grow as a professional here in Kansas City during the past few seasons. Was it nice to see him rewarded for his efforts?
Arnaud: I couldn’t be happier for Bes. He put in a ton of work in the offseason, came back and since the very start of preseason has been our best defender in my opinion. He’s been consistently very good. His performances game in and game out have been outstanding.
I told him on the phone [on Wednesday] that it’s been a big year for him and that he’s really stepped up and taken the responsibility of being a leader in the back. I think he has it all athletically, but rarely does he have to use his athleticism to get out of bad spots because he reads the game so well. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.
MLSsoccer.com: Seems like it has been a pretty productive summer so far when it comes to the transfer market and other acquisitions, getting Soony Saad, Jéferson and Daneil Cyrus. How does it feel to know you have options and good players up and down the roster?
Arnaud: To be a good team in the league, or anywhere, you have to have options, depth and competition for spots. The coaches need to have those options at their disposal. It’s a good thing for the club, and I think the coaching staff has done a great job in terms of bringing players in.
MLSsoccer.com: Nobody has seen too much of Jéferson so far, but what are your initial impressions from the 135 minutes or so we’ve seen him?
Arnaud: You can see he is comfortable on the ball. Obviously, I haven’t seen a ton of him just like anyone else, but you can tell right away that he’s not afraid of getting the ball in tight spots. He’s a guy who wants to bring other people into the game and make plays going forward. That’s good for our team. He seems to be buying into what the team is trying to do and the team concept so that is all very positive.