TAMPA, Fla. - Steve Purdy's 2009 season with FC Dallas was a pretty tough initiation into Major League Soccer. The 6-4 former Cal defender came to FCD after playing in Germany and performed well in preseason. However, after initially earning a spot in Schellas Hyndman's back four and making five appearances, Purdy struggled with injuries the rest of the year. At season's end, FCD released him.
Now, he's back. The 25-year-old former Golden Bear came into preseason as a trialist and is now competing with Edson Edward for the final defensive roster spot.
"During the off-season, I worked hard to get everything that was bothering me with my injuries back to 100 percent," Purdy told MLSsoccer.com. "I came into preseason feeling like my old self from last preseason and not feeling like the player who was struggling with the injuries. Ultimately, I feel like a different player. So far I think it's been a strong showing this preseason."
During FCD's trip to Tampa, Purdy played in one of the two matches, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 2-2 draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
"It's unfortunate I haven't been able to get too much time in the games, but I think when I've actually been in the games, I've showed well and that I'm back to my full strength self," he said. "You can train all the time but it's really important to get in those games consistently and find your true game. That's what preseason is all about."
With the league-mandated roster cut-down looming, Hyndman admits he has yet to make a decision about Purdy. Having choices and potential depth is a luxury in MLS, but it doesn't make filling out the roster sheet an easy task.
"It's going to be a little difficult for us to look at who we're going to be keeping," the FCD coach said. "Steve can play center back and right back. He's got good size, is strong in the air and has been around. Eddie [Edward] is more of an athlete who is a little raw in his abilities. There might be a good upside for the level of play that we're having in the league and how physical the league is."
Whether he makes the final cut or not, one thing Purdy isn't doing is dwelling on his experiences from 2009. He is choosing instead to learn from the disappointment.
"Sometimes unfortunate things come," he said. "You have to fight through it. That's part of life in soccer. You've got to learn from the lessons along the way."
And when he has gotten on the field during preseason, he has performed well and, despite the very obvious battle with Edward for that final spot, feels his chances of making FCD remain solid.
"I think it's kind of a tricky situation because he has been playing more of a right back situation and I've been playing more in the middle," Purdy said. "So it will ultimately come down to more of what the coaches want and need. Do they need a flank player? Do they need someone in the center of the park?"