It’s been a long time coming for American forward Cody Arnoux. Ever since he returned to North America last summer following a one-year stint with Everton’s reserve team, his goal was simple: to play in MLS.
On Friday, it finally materialized after Real Salt Lake won the weighted player lottery for the player’s services.
“The last couple of months have been tough,” Arnoux told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “I came back from Europe to play in MLS and that has been a dream of mine. When I was in limbo the last few months, I was nervous about what was going to happen.
“The last four days have been really busy for me. It’s great to finally be part of an MLS team. I’m so ecstatic.”
Arnoux falls in the “high work rate” class of strikers and it would seem like the perfect fit for the up-tempo playing style of Real Salt Lake.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them [RSL] but I couldn’t be more excited,” Arnoux said. “I know that [Robbie] Findley left and he was a great striker. So it leaves a little door open for me. It’s a good fit. I’ve watched them play. … It’s a great organization and I’m super stoked to be with them.
The former Wake Forest grad is still in Vancouver tying up loose ends with his apartment before he makes the move. In the meantime, Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly has been giving him the lowdown on Salt Lake City. Nolly played for RSL in their first two seasons in 2005 and 2006.
Arnoux’s first priority will be to recover from surgery performed two months ago on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear and a small microfracture. He suffered the injury while working out with the Whitecaps’ Residency squad in the offseason. He says that the knee is feeling strong but that he expects another six weeks of rehab before he’s in full training again.
He’ll need to be at 100 percent to play the kind of soccer he knows how.
“I never stop working – that’s what I build my game around,” Arnoux said. “I’m not the guy who’s going to make the right pass every time or make the right decision. But I’m good in front of goal and have confidence in front of goal and that has to be built back up because I’ve been off for a while.
“I’m a hard worker and that’s something English fans like. Even though I wasn’t playing with [Everton's] first team, they appreciated that a lot and I know American fans appreciate that a lot. That’s the kind of player I am. I’ve not always been the best, but I’ve always had to try to work harder to beat everyone else.”
Arnoux spared a final thought for the Whitecaps, who signed the 22-year-old back in August 2010 with the hope of having him join them for their 2011 MLS expansion season.
“I definitely want to thank Vancouver for everything and sorry it didn’t work out,” Arnoux said. “Fantastic city, fantastic organization. I don’t have a bad thing to say about them at all. They worked hard to get me to play for them but it didn’t work out. That’s football. That’s business. But Salt Lake is a great place for me.”