UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – New York Red Bulls center back Wilman Conde has endured a rough start to the MLS season both on and off the field, but that has made him all the more eager to get back to playing for his club.
Conde has been deemed healthy enough by manager Hans Backe to return to action after missing 10 of the Red Bulls’ first 12 games this season due to various injuries. And the Colombian defender could return as soon as Wednesday, when first-place New York host Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena (7 pm ET, Univision Deportes).
“I’m very excited to be able to get back on the field and be healthy and not have any more injuries,” Conde told reporters on Tuesday. “I expect it to stay that way until the end of the season, so that I can be available for the coaching staff when they need me.”
Conde looked solid in his first two appearances for the Red Bulls in late March – NY won both matches against the Colorado Rapids and the Montreal Impact – but he missed every game since with a groin injury.
WATCH: Backe, Pearce, McCarty preview Chivas USA
Now fully recovered from that knock, Conde is aiming to break into a Red Bulls defense that has played exceptionally well in recent weeks using younger and more inexperienced players. He is not concerned with having to break into a back line that has conceded just three goals in the last five games.
“The one that has to make the decisions on who starts and who doesn’t is the coach,” Conde said. “I just keep focused on doing what I can do in the best way I can, and I train knowing that no one has secured a starting spot. It’s based off performances, so I have to work hard and do the best job possible.”
Off the field, Conde is dealing with an incident from early May in which he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Conde would not go into specifics about what transpired on the morning of May 12, but he did touch on the conversations he has had with the Red Bulls on the issue.
“The team has backed me completely with the responsibility on my part that it will never happen again,” Conde said. “I’m focused now on returning to the field.”