Two weeks ago, Florian Jungwirth finally got the starting assignment he desired when he made the move to the San Jose Earthquakes earlier this year. The German has been pressed into duty as a center back for the Quakes from day one of the season, but in the team’s first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match of the 2017 tournament, he was given a midfield responsibility.
Jungwirth responded brightly to the role, and in anchoring the midfield line, saw the Quakes off to a quick two goal lead in an eventual 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Deltas. However, the result came at a personal price, as the NASL side played physically from the opening whistle, and Jungwirth had to be subbed off with a serious looking ankle injury. He has missed the last two MLS games for the Quakes as he waited for the swelling to subside, with Andres Imperiale filled in admirably in his absence.
His ankle feeling much better, the man known simply as Flo made his return to the training field this week, working on the side, but not partaking in any on-field activities. More of an observer of new head coach Chris Leitch’s first practice in charge, Jungwirth kept his focus on getting ready for this Saturday’s California Clasico against the LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium.
“Yeah, the ankle is going good,” said Jungwirth on Monday. “It gets better from day to day. Last Saturday, I did my first running session on the pitch. Today was the first doing ball work. It’s hard to project if I can play on Saturday or not. Obviously, I want to play in front of that great crowd.”
The Earthquakes are expected an attendance of over 50,000 at Stanford Stadium this weekend as the team celebrates its annual “Summer of Soccer” showdown with the Galaxy. Jungwirth, who in the German Bundesliga with former club Darmstadt became accustomed to playing in front of huge crowds, has eyed this match as his first experience to rival what he enjoyed back home. However, Flo knows that he won’t be doing himself or the team any good if he rushes back too soon from his ankle injury.
“I’m not the youngest guy anymore,” said Jungwirth, “and I’ve learned in the past years to know my body, how it feels and when it’s ready to go. I know I need some more percentages to say I’m ready for the Galaxy on Saturday, and obviously I need to practice with the team. I cannot chill the whole week and say Saturday morning, ‘Hey, Chris, I’m ready to go!’”
Jungwirth is currently 50/50 to play against the Galaxy — he is currently listed as “questionable” on the MLS injury report — and he hopes that he can increase that percentage with each day of training. Flo will definitely not play in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup round of 16 match against the Seattle Sounders, but he will continue to push forward with his rehab over the course of the week.
“I fight everyday to get on the pitch with my mates on Saturday,” said Jungwirth, “but if not, I go to Atlanta.”
The Quakes will make a quick turnaround from Saturday’s game at Stanford, playing next on Tuesday against expansion side Atlanta United. If Flo is a no-go for that match, he is likely to return to action on July 14 when the Earthquakes host German side Eintracht Frankfurt in a summer friendly at Avaya Stadium.
Amarikwa and Wynne also return to training
Two familiar faces were also in attendance at Quakes training this week. Forward Quincy Amarikwa, who injured his knee at the end of last season, has been slowly rehabilitating and hopes to be able to participate in full training in a few weeks. He’ll have his work cut out for him to earn his spot back in the starting line-up, however, as newcomers Marco Urena and Danny Hoesen are ahead of him on the depth chart.
Marvell Wynne was also at the training field, after recently receiving the go ahead to work out restriction free. Wynne had undergone major surgery on March 21 to correct a serious heart abnormality, and it was not clear upon his recovery if he would be able to return to professional soccer. 13 weeks later, the former U.S. international defender is getting himself back into shape and may very well be able to take the field for the Quakes before the season is through.
“I can’t wait to get into a game,” he told Mercury News reporter Elliott Almond. Wynne is still limiting himself to conditioning exercises at this point, but the 31-year old has already shown in his rehabilitation an ability to speed up the typical recovery time from major surgery. Nothing official has been stated as to when he will return to full training.