CHESTER, Pa.— Kacper Przybylko came to the Philadelphia Union last September as a player looking to regain full fitness after an injury layoff.
The 26-year-old spent the end of 2018 rehabbing a foot injury that kept him out for close to two full seasons at the end of his tenure in Germany with Kaiserslautern,
Almost a year later, Przybylko is the Union’s leading scorer with 13 goals and had his contract option for the 2020 season picked up Thursday.
“It’s a great feeling that they have faith in me,” Przybylko told Pro Soccer USA. “They trust me. I’ve played a good season and I’m happy about that individually, but most important is that we have a great season as a team. I need to thank all of my teammates because I would never have scored these goals without them. I’m just happy with how it’s going.”
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 1, 2019
The path to get on the field for the first team was not easy for the German-born Polish forward. After working back to match fitness, he started the season with USL Championship-affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC before making his Union as a substitute April 20.
“I don’t want to talk or think about the past because it was a rough time for me,” Przybylko said. “I’m just thankful for everyone, the athletic coaches, the physical therapists they helped me to get fit again. I’m so thankful for everyone here. My teammates, the coaches, who gave me the trust that I can play here, and also the doctors. I just want to thank them. I’m looking forward to the new season, but this season is also not over yet.”
Przybylko initially came to the Union with large ambitions, but no one, not even himself, expected the type of season he would have on an individual and team level. Jim Curtin’s side entered the international break in first place in the Eastern Conference after a 3-1 win over Atlanta United.
“I’m very ambitious,” Przybylko said. “I came here just to get the most out of the team. Who expected that we played on the top all the time? I would say it’s a great season. I’m just happy with how it’s going. No one expected it and nobody should explain that and just continue it like this.”
The success of Przybylko and left back Kai Wagner, who also came over from the lower leagues in Germany, could open the door for sporting director Ernst Tanner to call on more German-based players to come over to MLS.
While that could be the case, Przybylko was quick to point out the success of other players as well, which could add to Tanner’s pitch in the offseason when looking for squad improvements.
“We also have other players that are having great seasons that are not German,” Przybylko said. “We have a lot of nationalities here and everyone is doing a great job. Maybe it’s also about the sporting director. He has seen the talent in Kai, something in me and we just try to do our best for the team. Kai is doing his best as well. It’s not only the German guys, it’s the whole power of everyone here.”