UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Lloyd Sam has played his last game for the New York Red Bulls this season.
Head coach Hans Backe revealed the crushing news to reporters on Tuesday morning. The winger sustained a knock to his right knee in the second half of the Red Bulls’ scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City this past Saturday, his first game back since suffering a hamstring injury in late September.
“Lloyd Sam is out for the season, unfortunately,” said Backe. “Knee injury, I don’t know the exact diagnosis but he’s out, definitely.”
A Red Bulls spokesman said the exact diagnosis was a PCL injury and that surgery may not be necessary. Regardless, Sam will still miss out on the playoffs, a devastating blow for a New York team that has lacked width ever since trading Dane Richards in July.
“Playing from [a] wide area, he’s a guy who’s creative and a fun player to watch,” said Jan Gunnar Solli. “He has the skills to take on people one-against-one, he’s not afraid and he’s very offensive in the way he thinks, so of course that’s going to be a big loss for us.”
The loss of Sam means more than just losing a player that looked capable of contributing to the Red Bulls’ hopes of an MLS Cup. It also means New York will miss the presence of an upbeat individual that was good for team chemistry.
Sam was constantly cracking jokes during training or in the locker room and brought a lighthearted nature to a team that is inundated by constant pressure.
“He’s not afraid of sometimes making a fool out of himself, and I really enjoyed that,” said Solli."[The players] have fun and fool around with some jokes here and there, and it’s nice to see and you can kind of see he’s a very lively player on the field, too.
“Guys like to kind of have fun with it and make a fool out of him sometimes [during practice drills] and stuff and those kind of things are fun. It creates a good atmosphere and we need that.”
Due to a combination of the aforementioned hamstring injury and a lack of game fitness after joining the Red Bulls in August, Sam played in just five games this season. He had one assist in 164 minutes.
His contract expires at the end of the season and the club has an option for 2013.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.