Injury has dogged the career of U.S. national team defender Cory Gibbs, 28, but at the weekend he finally made his comeback to competitive soccer by making his debut for the Colorado Rapids in a 2-1 win over the Kansas City Wizards. He told Greg Lalas that all he wants to do now is "simply play football."
"I need to play. I've been injured way too long, jeopardized my future," said Gibbs. His long term goals, though, include not just fighting his way back into the U.S. team, but heading back to Europe, where he just spent two years at Charlton Athletic on the injured list.
He understatedly calls that time "a bit disappointing. I spent two years in England and I wasn't able to get myself fit enough to play. But I definitely see myself back there in the future. Definitely." But can he first establish himself in Major League Soccer? "MLS's history is littered with American players who returned from Europe," writes Lalas, "hoping to jumpstart their careers or 'be seen' and soon found themselves struggling to crack the starting lineup -- good players, like Jovan Kirovski, Greg Vanney, Tony Sanneh."
Gibbs made the move back to MLS once already, when he came back from Germany to play for Dallas in the 2004 season, making 21 starts, and leading to national team call-ups. A move to Feyenoord (with Ruud Gullit in charge) followed, then a loan to Den Haag, and then the transfer to Charlton and the injury that caused him to miss the 2006 World Cup. Over a year later he came back to the reserves and immediately broke his leg in three places, and though he was back to full fitness by the end of last season, he parted ways with Charlton and landed in Denver after L.A. (with Ruud Gullit no longer in charge) passed up the chance to sign him. With that final move, Gibbs said, "I can honestly say I'm happy."