To find the story of the Wings’ inaugural season summed up in the plight of one player, one can look at Freddie Moojen.
Just as Moojen was becoming a reliable scorer for Wichita, his season ended after 14 games thanks to a broken fibula. Several injuries contributed to the Wings’ undoing, but perhaps none was more devastating to Wichita’s short-term hopes than Moojen’s.
When he was injured on Jan. 21 against Milwaukee, Moojen was riding a five-game scoring streak and had notched a pair of hat tricks during the previous six games. He broke out with a nine-point outing against Syracuse on Dec. 2 and had five multi-point games after that.
“It was very frustrating,” Moojen said. “It usually takes a little time to get it going, for players to adjust to the new team and new players. Finally, when I got it going and we had good chemistry with everyone on the field, I got hurt. For sure, that was very frustrating.”
The Wings, determined not to have to rely on a small group of players or to see the season crumble if one gets injured, signed several top scorers during the offseason, including reigning MISL MVP Geison Moura, previously with Missouri.
But Wichita’s aspirations might rest just as heavily on players such as Moojen, who provides the stability of a familiar face while the newcomers undergo their own adjustment periods. The Wings are 0-2 and one of the reasons is that only two of their 25 points have been scored by a returning player.
Moojen, a 29-year-old forward, underwent eight weeks of rehabilitation and was playing outdoor soccer in Canada almost immediately after he was cleared. He received postseason recognition for his play there and started this season with momentum.
“Rehab is always difficult,” Moojen said. “I remember when I had to put on the boot and I had to come and watch the guys play. You want to help but you can’t help. I had to stay in the boot for eight weeks, and for eight weeks I could not do anything. I could not run, I could not ride the bike, I could not do anything.
“It was frustrating. But I had the mindset that I wanted to be back to 100 percent as soon as possible.”
Moojen, now fully healthy, brings a unique set of skills to the young franchise. He has played indoor soccer since 2007, a rarity among Wichita players mostly just breaking into the game. He played futsal, a variation on the indoor game, as a kid in Brazil and he has played outdoors in countries such as Poland and Thailand.
The game is played differently in Europe and Asia and forces players to adjust to different styles. In the United States, players operate more physically, occasionally taking Moojen out of his comfort zone. But his experience allows Moojen to adjust more quickly.
“It’s definitely not the same,” Moojen said. “I was fortunate to play in many different countries, and I can guarantee you I learned something different in every country I played. It’s definitely not the same here in the U.S. It’s more physical, a more run-up-and-down game, whereas, like in Brazil, it’s more technical.”
Moojen’s scoring ability may help the Wings rebound from the difficult start. He played well when the Wings needed it last season, and he said part of the reason is because he didn’t put pressure on himself by viewing his role as one of leadership.
“To tell you the truth I didn’t look at it that way,” Moojen said. “I was just there every day, training hard, trying to improve. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get going, and that’s what happened. I was fortunate enough to do that and to help the team win some games.”