After returning from more than a two-year injury absence, Sunday’s 4-0 season opening loss at the hands of the LA Galaxy wasn’t exactly the coronation that defender Steven Kinney was hoping for.
“The result made things bittersweet,” admitted Kinney. “It was great being back out there with the team and on the field where the first injury actually happened.”
The fourth-year Fire veteran returned for to The Home Depot Center for the first time since suffering a ruptured Achilles at the end of 2010 and after Arne Friedrich was ruled out of the match with a hamstring injury, was given the unenviable task of dealing with star striker Robbie Keane.
The Irish international made things difficult all day for Kinney and center back partner Austin Berry, drawing more attention to himself and opening up space for Mike Magee to earn a hat trick on the day.
“Robbie is a world-class player. His movement off the ball is fantastic and he was opening up lanes for Magee all day. Their movement together was phenomenal. You can tell they were with each other last year.
“We’ve got new guys coming into the team and still trying to gel and it felt like they were firing on all cylinders.”
Despite the score line, Kinney received praise for his return from Fire head coach Frank Klopas.
“Things come up and I think throughout the season you have setbacks with players and guys have to step in,” said the manager.
“I was very happy with Steven after his absence to come back and rebound. I think that’s a positive – all the games that he’s playing and the experience he’s getting is going to help us throughout the season.”
Asked about the potential return of Friedrich for Saturday’s home opener vs. New England, Klopas said both he and captain Logan Pause, who missed the match with a quad injury, were going to be judged day-to-day.
“If they don’t train tomorrow and the next couple of days, it’s doubtful they’d be available for [Saturday’s] game.”
If that’s the case, Kinney could get another go on the backline as he works with his teammates to re-group from Sunday’s loss.
“It’s important to get a result in Saturday’s game and I got the first game jitters out after two years,” he said. “If Arne’s not ready to go, I’m ready to step in there and contribute.”