Kara Lang is mounting a comeback, and it may just come at the perfect time for her and Canada.
Now 26, the Canadian forward is gearing up for a return to the Canadian national team as early as October, according to reports. Lang has spent the past two years in retirement, serving as an analyst for the Rogers Sportsnet, including during the 2011 Women’s World cup and the 2012 Olympics.
Lang was first capped by the senior Canadian national team at age 15 and scored in her second game for the team two days later (March 3, 2002) against Wales. She is the youngest player ever to be capped by and to score for Canada.
Her successes continued at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, and she continued to help Canada at the youth level, guiding the U-19 team to a second place finish (a loss to the U.S. in the final in front of 47,784 fans) at the U-19 Women’s World Championship in 2002 on home soil. Christine Sinclair stole the show in that tournament, winning the Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe. With Sinclair and Lang, Canada held a promising future, evidenced by a 4th place finish at the 2003 World Cup.
But Lang struggled mightily with knee injuries, eventually retiring in January 2011 after giving up on several failed attempts to rehabilitate her ACL.
“I worked my ass off,” she bluntly told theScore’s Richard Whittall about her previous rehab attempts. “I was diligent and committed. But I was doing the wrong things. Which is almost worse. That’s so frustrating because you’re doing all you can and it doesn’t work.”
But Lang is now working with a new group of trainers from a company called B2Ten, according to the report, and John Herdman has his eye on her. Lang could be in the mix for October against South Korea. From theScore:
John Herdman’s trust in Lang, and his emphasis on good sports science and fitness, and his respect for her life outside—and after—football has given her confidence that her return will be handled in the best way possible.
‘He’s all about balance and that’s the key to pretty much everything he does. And that’s a big reason why I’m stoked to work with him because he believes in balance both in terms of how much time and energy you put into your training, and also just balancing your life. I think this is the first time in a long time where that team has been able to able to have lives outside soccer because he knows that if, you know, happy players are good players. They’ll produce on the field if they have balance.'”
So what’s this all mean? Firstly, it’s great to hear Lang is attempting a comeback. Seeing the career of such a talented young player end so early was tragic. Her knee may always be a concern — whether front and center with an injury or as a lingering doubt — but if Lang can regenerate some of her old flash, Canada will be that much better. Lang played for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Pali Blues in the W-League and attended UCLA. She never played in WPS.
For Lang, there is finally an assurance that she is approaching her rehab the right way. There is peace of mind. There is a direction.
There’s no doubt that Herdman sees the potential in bringing back Lang, too. It’s far too early to say at what level Lang could be playing come October (or any other time), but Herdman’s eyes surely light up looking over the successes of Canada when Lang was around — that 2002 U-19 runners-up finish, with Sinclair scoring 10 goals in six games and Erin McLeod in goal — plus that 4th place finish at the 2003 World Cup, where 16-year-old Lang played beyond her years (watch her free kick in the semifinals vs. Sweden). And despite that 2012 Olympic bronze medal, Canada has failed to get out of the group stage in the last two World Cups, which won’t be anywhere near acceptable in 2015.
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