BY ADAM SERRANO
Sal Zizzo is a player in need of a new beginning.
After being heralded as one of the next great American wingers and an impressive showing in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, the UCLA product headed to the Bundesliga for Hanover 96, but after a series of injuries and failed loan moves, the winger has returned to MLS looking to restart his career.
Recently selected by Chivas USA in an allocation draft, a club close to his native San Diego and boasting Jonathan Bornstein, Zizzo's teammate at UCLA, the winger feels that being around such familiar surroundings is just the type of situation that he needs after a difficult few years in Germany.
" I'm happy to be here being from San Diego and I'm excited to get started in America," said Zizzo. "After my injury it was difficult to find options and I wanted to play right away and I think that in this point in my career, I need to play so I'm just focusing on getting fit."
Zizzo returns to America after a whirlwind three years in the German Bundesliga. Signed after his exploits in Canada, the winger suffered a variety of injuries including an ACL tear that ended his 2009, the same year that his loan to Fortuna Düsseldorf was canceled after a heart irregularity. This nightmare run of injuries led to Hanover declining to renew his contract and a return to America despite other offers in Europe.
Many pundits in the United States grew concerned with the winger's heart irregularity that ended his time with Fortuna, but to Zizzo these concerns were grossly overstated.
"I was sick and I had the flu and I had to run a fitness test and because of that my heart rate was a little high and the club was concerned," said Zizzo. "When I ran the same test just two weeks later when I was fine, I was perfectly fine so I feel that it just got made into something bigger than it was."
Zizzo's age and the importance of the wing position to the United States attack could place the midfielder in the running for spots for the World Cup in 2014. The winger, who has one international cap that was earned in 2007 in a loss to Sweden, admits that a return to the national team was on his mind when he chose to join MLS.
"It crossed my mind, everyone wants to play for the national team, but the reality is that I'm 23 and I just need to be getting games," said Zizzo. "Everyone knows that with the national team that you need to get games so that I hope with coming here I can reinvent myself and go from there."
The UCLA product has been training with the Rojiblancos for the past week since joining the club after their Superliga match against Pachuca. Although there had been rumors of other teams attempting to deal for the speedy winger, the struggling Rojiblancos seem committed to keeping the 23-year-old on their roster.
Zizzo joins a Chivas USA side that currently features a litany of midfielders and players who have experience manning the wing spots ranging from Bornstein to recent addition Rodolfo Espinoza. With a wealth of players at his position, head coach Martin Vasquez admits that the club has time to allow Zizzo to reach match fitness and that now time table has been set for his addition to the roster
"We're going to be smart and push him, but we're going to evaluate him and see how the next two weeks go, but right now he's with the group and training" said Vasquez. "We have the green light from the doctors that his knee is fine and we look forward to using him."
Although the winger only earned eight appearances during his time in Germany, he is optimistic that a return to MLS may be just what he needs to kick start his career. Despite all that occurred, Zizzo has no regrets.
"Those three years prepared me so much, I'm a much better player than I was three years ago because training sessions there are just as intense as games," said Zizzo. "I'm just looking to help right away and bring my speed and a different mentality to the team and help bring the level up here."