It wasn't all that long ago when Macoumba Kandji was sporting an orange jersey with his collar popped. In fact, it's been less than a full year. Kandji last suited up for the Houston Dynamo in the 2012 MLS Cup on December 1 against the LA Galaxy.
Kandji came in for the injured Calen Carr and finished the match with 31 minutes as the Dynamo went on to lose 3-1. For Kandji, it was so close to a fairy tale ending for this particular chapter in his career.
Shortly after the MLS Cup, Dominic Kinnear prepared himself to retool his squad in hopes of faring better in the following season. With Carr's injury shelving him long term, most figured Kandji would definitely be re-signed to fill the second forward spot - and to add speed to a team with a big need for it.
It turns out Mac Kandji had other plans - it was time to follow a dream.
"It was a dream of mine since I was a young boy to play in Europe; it's just something I wanted to do," Kandji told me this week.
After no signs of progress in negotiations with Kandji, word came that Mac informed the club of his interest in pursuing options outside Major League Soccer.
Kandji echoes that as well, telling me that he spoke to Dominic Kinnear about his European dream and the coach was understanding because he too was once a player.
With fans still curious about the speedy striker's next move, Kinnear confirmed his exit from the Dynamo in an interview with Monica Gonzalez during the MLS SuperDraft.
In January, Kandji found himself in France on trial with Clermont Foot. Clermont is a Ligue 2 club (second division) and showed interest in signing Kandji, butnegotiations broke down and shortly afterwards he was on to his next attempt (and country) to find a home.
Shortly after ending his trial in France, Kandji was linked with Kalloni F.C. from the Football League (Greek second division). Days after the initial news surfaced, the club made their new addition official with a release on their website.
"Going to Kalloni was not intended [originally]," Kandji told me. "I was negotiating to go to France and Belgium, but that didn't go through. Kalloni was a last minute thing."
Regardless, Kandji made the most of his experience playing for the club who is based in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. In 19 appearances with the club, Kandji bagged six goals in 1477 minutes played. Not only did he contribute to the scoreline, Kandji helped the club gain promotion to the first division and earn a spot in the Super League.
Kandji said the fans for Kalloni showed him a lot of love and appreciated his time there, even credited the club earning promotion as his best moment since leaving MLS.
Shortly after the season ended though, Kandji was on the move once again. This time hestayed in Greece and joined Levadiakos F.C., which plays in the Super League.
Leavadiakos will offer new challenges, and Kandji is hoping to impress with eyes on moving to bigger and better things.
"I signed a one year deal with Leavadiakos. My goal this season is to have a good half or full season and then move to a bigger club," Kandji told me.
"Levadiakos offered me more [money] so I came here," he added. "But my goal is not to stay in Greece. It's just a stepping stone to go to countries like Germany and France."
The Super League season kicked off this past weekend, and Kandji made his debut in the starting lineup and went the full 90 minutes. He didn't end up on the stat sheet in the 2-2 draw, but the striker was involved in helping his club in a number of ways.
While Kandji has a bigger move in mind in the near future, he's never eliminated MLS as a place he'll be again.
"I love MLS, and a return is definitely possible," he told me.
One thing is for sure - Kandji's American fans seem follow his every move and wonder about his future. The 28 year old forward spent time with not only the Dynamo, but won an MLS Cup with the Colorado Rapids, and spent a couple of years playing for the New York Red Bulls. Prior to MLS, he came through the ranks of the Atlanta Silverbacks in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
I asked Kandji which one of his former cities showed him the most love on social media and his response was exactly as I expected.
"Houston," he admitted. "Colorado is not far off because of the [MLS Cup] history , but I'll have to say Houston," he concluded.
It's evident Houston still has love for Mac Kandji. Who knows what the future holds for the striker, but it appears there will always be a connection between him and Dynamo fans - even if he's on another continent.