Lloyd Sam may not have enjoyed a dream debut with the New York Red Bulls, but it was just the type of outing he admittedly needed.
Sam’s seven-minute cameo off the bench in the Red Bulls’ 2-2 draw with D.C. United last Wednesday helped the 27-year-old not only get a small glimpse as to what it will be like playing in MLS in the coming months, but it also helped him in his fight to regain full fitness after joining New York in the midst of the European offseason.
“I call it a quick taste into the MLS [and] it’s good that the coach brought me in for that little bit because if I went into this break without playing, it would have just been a different feeling,” Sam told MLSsoccer.com. “Now that I’ve gotten on the pitch, I’m here just getting fit. That’s my main problem: just getting fit. So this break came at a great time, right after a little 10-minute spell.”
Sam may have made his first appearance in the draw against D.C., but Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe had indicated that the English midfielder was going to be eligible to play in the Red Bulls’ 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City three days earlier.
That, at least, was originally the idea after Sam had received his visa in England, but an unexpected hiccup delayed his trip to Livestrong Sporting Park and caused him to miss out in the Eastern Conference match.
“My flight had been cancelled so I had to wait in the airport for 10 hours, then I had to take the next flight to Newark,” Sam said. “That 10-hour break made me miss the game. So I got a plane to Newark, stayed overnight, and then went to Kansas the next day.
“The original plan was to go into Newark and then to Kansas, so I missed a whole day,” he added. “Once I got to Kansas, that was the same day as the game. I wanted to be involved but I wasn’t there on time.”
Sam now sees all that as water under the bridge and he has continued to try to get in game shape by training with Red Bulls fitness coaches during the extended break for New York.
Sam, who has almost fully settled into life in the New York area, believes he should be fully fit for the club’s next match against the Columbus Crew on Sept. 15. And while he does not mind coming off the bench to provide a spark, he hopes his role will be bigger than that.
“I wouldn’t say that I came out to America to be on the bench,” he said. “But obviously, wherever the team needs me [is where I’ll play].”