Juan Agudelo
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Injured Agudelo insists he'll return ahead of schedule

HARRISON, N.J. – Juan Agudelo could be out for the better part of two months with a knee injury he picked up last week, but the young New York Red Bulls forward is keeping a positive outlook on things.

Having sustained a meniscus tear in his left knee last Thursday while on duty with the US Olympic team, Agudelo remains upbeat despite facing a spell on the sidelines and the end of his participation in the US' attempt to qualify for London.

“It’s tough, but I don’t like to look at the negative things,” Agudelo told reporters after the Red Bulls win over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday. “The positive thing is that it wasn’t my ACL or anything. It’s just a little knee injury that’s very minor, so I’ll be back soon.”

Agudelo said the injury happened prior to his headed goal in the 37th minute of the Americans’ Olympic qualifying opener, a 6-0 rout of Cuba at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

“I was just trying to shield the ball for a corner, and I tried to stop myself from running,” Agudelo said. “I got pushed a little bit and then my knee got caught in the grass. I felt a little pop. I tried to play through it and as soon as I stopped moving it around, it got really sore and I couldn’t go back in the second half.

“I talked to the coach and he just thought it would be smarter [to miss the second half]. Then we did more research on it with some doctors, and he said that it is just a minor meniscus problem. After surgery, I should be fine.”

Agudelo is scheduled to go under the knife on Monday morning, but the timetable for his return from his second notable injury this year (he picked up an ankle knock that did not require surgery while with the US Olympic team in January) is still a bit cloudy.

“I’m not quite sure, it is a meniscus, but minimum six weeks,” Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said after his team’s 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday.

Agudelo believes he will back on the field sooner, saying three to four weeks is the most time he’ll miss.

“Your meniscus is not as bad as some people think,” Agudelo said. “They just need to scrape it up a little bit and I’ll be fine.”

Agudelo did admit difficulty in watching his US teammates fall at the hands of northern rival Canada in their second Olympic qualifying match this past Saturday, a result that now places the Americans in danger of missing out on the Summer Games.

“I just wanted to be out there and wanted to help the team qualify,” he said. “My teammates were so upset after the game. We just want to go to London.”

Before the 19-year-old forward can think about making it to London, he will need to recover from an injury that will keep him out of the Red Bulls’ upcoming games versus the Montreal Impact, Columbus Crew and San Jose Earthquakes, at the very least.

That does not seem to be a problem for him.

“I’m pretty young,” he said, “so I heal up quick.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.

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