C.J. Sapong returned to action in extreme weather conditions last Saturday after more than a month off, but the Union forward isn't complaining.
Competing in his first game since suffering a sprained right ankle in a 3-2 win over visiting Columbus on June 1, Sapong came off the bench in the 63rd minute during that 1-0 Major League Soccer loss at Houston against the Dynamo.
The temperature for the game was approaching 100 degrees, but that was fine with Sapong.
"It was definitely different," Sapong said. "Also the pitch was a little sandy and soft, but honestly, after getting through it, I am glad I had that type of situation."
Being able to play in adverse conditions showed Sapong that he was indeed ready to return.
"When the conditions are against you, that really tests yourself, and my ankle held up great," he said.
Whether he's ready to play 90 minutes when the Union host D.C. United on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium remains to be seen, but any time by Sapong will be welcomed by the team.
Coach Jim Curtin said that he is hoping Sapong is able to be a starter on Saturday.
The Union have lost consecutive MLS games for the first time this season, having also fallen to visiting Vancouver, 3-2.
In Sapong's absence, the Union went 1-2 in MLS games and allowed nine goals.
Sapong, in addition to scoring five goals, which is tied for second on the team, is among the top defensive forwards in MLS. His absence hurt on both ends of the field.
"He is a big part of our team not only offensively but defensively," Curtin said.
Sapong concedes there was a little bit of rust to shake off in his return.
"I wish my finish was a little better, and I will get that back, too," he said.
After a week training with the team Sapong expects to be greatly improved from the Houston game.
"I just want to get back and keep strengthening my ankle," he said. "I want to keep my maintenance up as well, so I don't have to miss any more games the rest of the season."