David Accam surprises with early return for the Chicago Fire

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—It wasn’t the ideal move for Veljko Paunovic, but with his team trailing the New England Revolution, 1-0, heading into the second half on Saturday, the Chicago Fire coach felt he had to pull the trigger.

Paunovic opened the half with forward David Accam replacing teammate Gilberto up top for the Fire, in what ultimately proved a 2-0 defeat to the Revolution.

Paunovic accelerated Accam's return – he was previously expected toward the end of the month – due to the forward’s progressive recovery from a sprained knee that has sidelined him since March 11.

“David recovered well,” Paunovic said. “Part of our plan today was actually to play some minutes. Not full half, but in the end we had to make decisions and we believe that he was very aware of his performance, how he has to come into the games.”

Accam, who tallied two goals and an assist in his first two matches before suffering the injury, came on in an effort to spark some energy into a Fire attack that had barely broken through the box.

Able to increase his presence as the game went on, Paunovic preached patience in allowing Chicago’s Designated Player to get back into game form, something he knows will still take some time.

“As the game was passing by, he was performing better and better,” Paunovic said. “He was important in the game for us, but we still have to keep working on him and be careful. After two months being out, we have to be careful and go with the load properly.”

After logging his first match minutes in 63 days, Accam took to Twitter following his club’s 2-0 loss to express his gratitude in returning to the pitch.

Paunovic doesn't envision any further issues with Accam's knee, and is already looking toward the Fire's Wednesday matchup with the New York Red Bulls.

“We expect David to be fine for next game,” Paunovic said.