Since Quincy Amarikwa last played for the San Jose Earthquakes, the team have hired a new coach, a new general manager, a new president and numerous star players. But when the forward returned to action following a ten-month injury absence against Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday night, he said: “It’s kind of like nothing changed.”
When you’re as focused as Amarikwa, the recovery process is like a time-warp.
“When you get a bad injury like that you just put playing out of your mind,” he said. “For the last ten or however many months I was just focused on the process of rehab and getting back out there.”
Although a slew of offseason signings will make it harder for Amarikwa to break back into the starting lineup, he is undeterred.
“My perspective on the league and how I got into the league and having been a part of it is probably much different than most players,” he said. “Because of that, it could have been a completely different team with completely different players and to me it doesn’t matter. My job is to come out here and to perform and compete. It doesn’t matter who is in front of me. That’s what it is, it’s competition. Deal with it.
“If you can’t handle the fact that change happens, not only in the locker room but in life, you’re not going to succeed so don’t bother trying.”
Amarikwa shared the recovery process with teammate Marc Pelosi, who also returned from his year-and-a-half injury spell on Friday night. That shared experience brought the players closer both on and off the field and they have now partnered in multiple business ventures. “I think it’s meant to be that we ended up getting minutes together,” said Amarikwa.
“Though the injury was a setback from the physical side it was an opportunity to spend more time on the off the field stuff,” he added. “In doing so, me and Marc partnered up on a lot of stuff and that’s been going extremely well. Through that we’ve developed an extremely solid relationship and friendship that’s translated from investing and business to on the field. We’ve pushed each other physically and been there for each other through the rehab process.”
Both players came on as second half substitutes in their 4-1 victory over Frankfurt and Amarikwa wasted no time in asserting his presence, emphatically scoring a penalty after winning a spot-kick.
His performance earned a glowing review from coach Chris Leitch, who told Quakes Talk what he saw from Amarikwa’s performance. “I saw Quincy,” he said. “A guy who is going to battle every single play and every single second. I saw a guy that looked mobile, wasn’t thinking about anything other than being Quincy, fighting for this team and helping them out in every way he could.”
“It’s not easy when you’re on the shelf and not able to play to come in every day, sometimes twice a day, and really put in the work so that when the time comes that they get meaningful minutes they can perform. It’s a testament to those guys and how hard they’ve worked.”
Over the course of the recovery, Amarikwa’s objective has never changed.
“My mentality towards it has always been the same: you give 100%,” he said. “If that’s your style there’s not too much more you have to worry about. If I know I’m doing that, then I think the rest will fall in place. That’s how I approach it and it’s served me well so far.”
He’s also hoping his return will be a springboard for his business ventures.
“Guys building their brand, interacting with the fans, and showing the other sides of [a professional’s experience] humanizes it,” he said. “Breaking down that barrier, maybe it makes people think twice about having such negative things to say about players, especially when they don’t see how long [guys like] Marc are in here on the elliptical and on the bike, lifting weights and watching people do what it is you want to be doing knowing that you can’t rush back and you got to work through the process. There’s a lot to it. Guys are dedicated and putting forward a lot of effort so I think showcasing that a little bit more makes everyone come together to be able to achieve everything as a group.”
More pressing is his immediate return to action, which he hopes will materialize in the coming weeks.
“I think I’m on track to hopefully be game fit in the next couple weeks,” he said. “We’re on the right track and I’m hoping to start being eligible to be in the eighteen soon and start getting some minutes off the bench then hopefully start fighting for a starting spot.”