After a torn ACL ruined his two seasons with FC Rostov in Russia, former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle is hoping to revitalise his career with the Chicago Fire in MLS.
The Frenchman was first brought in for a trial at the end of last month, with a view towards signing next season, but his impressive training stint, as well as reigning league MVP Mike Magee’s season-ending hip surgery, presented the opportunity for him to sign before the September 15 roster freeze.
Set to lead the Fire attack’s for their post-season push along with Robert Earnshaw, the one-time capped international is looking forward to putting the previous two campaigns behind him and starting afresh, and insists he’s now fit and raring to go.
‘I come to MLS with two years where my stats have honestly been bad,’ he told Chicago-Fire.com. ‘This injury made me burn a lot of time. I had two years of a contract in Russia, only the opportunity to play at my best for three months.
‘In Europe you have a break at the end of the season, in Russia you have a break in the middle of the season. When you have a long injury, you can’t come back. Everything was not playing to my benefit.'
Sinama-Pongolle also revealed that he had received various other offers during the summer, but Fire head coach Frank Yallop convinced him that he could fill a crucial role for the club going forward.
‘On the other offers, I wasn’t convinced about the relation of the manger and how they felt I would be helpful for the team,’ he said. ‘The talks with Frank were very good, honest and made me understand everything from the start. I came away feeling like he cares about his players and wanted me here.’
Sinama-Pongolle, 29, originally joined Liverpool in 2001 from Le Havre, along with cousin Anthony Le Tallec, but returned to the French club on loan for the next two seasons, before going on to score eight goals in 56 games with the Reds from 2003 to 2006.
After a loan spell at Blackburn Rovers during the second-half of the 2005-06 campaign, the Réunion-born marksman would move on to then-La Liga outfit Recreativo, where he netted 22 times in two seasons to earn a switch to Atletico Madrid in 2008.
He failed to rediscover that scoring form, however, and, after leaving the Spanish capital in 2010, spent additional spells at Sporting Lisbon, Real Zaragoza, Saint-Etienne and Rostov, where the torn ACL suffered in March 2013 restricted him to just 22 appearances.