Salinas Nearing Return from Stress Fracture

Midfielder/defender has missed eight weeks with leg injury

When Shea Salinas was originally told his left fibula
fracture would keep him out 4-6 weeks, his instinctive reaction was that it
would take him about half that amount of time to recover. Eight weeks later,
however, the speedy and versatile winger/fullback is still working towards his
return to action.

Salinas last saw the field against his former club, the San
Jose Earthquakes, coming on as a substitute in the 64
th minute. For
the season, the 24-year-old has played in 11 matches and started seven times,
amassing 659 minutes while playing effectively both as a wide midfielder and
outside back. Salinas’ lone goal on the season came on May 29, a spectacular effort
that was voted AT&T Goal of the Week.

For Salinas, the objective right now is clear: get back on the
pitch, and in a hurry.

“(The leg) feels good,” he told on Friday.
“I just need to get fit now. The leg is (100 percent), but I have some other
issues. The fracture is good, but fitness, all my muscles are sore. I’m tight
and everything, just from not playing in two months. I should be back in a few
weeks, a week.”

For a player with the type of fighting spirit that Salinas
possesses, the past two months have been a personally challenging time. In
fact, his desire to play through pain likely contributed to the lengthy
duration of his absence.

“I think I just had a strained calf muscle, which caused me
to run funny for a few games,” he reflected. “That’s where I got the stress

But even when his leg worsened and it became clear that he was
dealing with a more severe injury, Salinas never imagined he’d be sidelined
this long.

“When I first got it (the stress fracture) they said 4-6 weeks, and in
my head that meant three weeks, two weeks,” he said. “But it’s been the worst
injury I’ve ever had just because I can’t do anything. I wasn’t able to run. All I can do is bike and swim. It’s tough to stay fit that way. It’s
been the longest I’ve ever been out in my life actually, so it’s been awful.”

What’s made the prolonged absence even more frustrating is
seeing his club linger near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings
despite often playing well enough to deserve better results.

“Yeah, absolutely, it’s tough to watch at any time,” Salinas said. “It’s tough to watch when they’re successful, because you want to be
part of the success, and it’s even tougher to watch when they’re not doing well
because guys aren’t showing up happy all the time. Things get rough when you’re
not winning games, but the locker room has been good so far. It’s been really
rough to sit out and watch.” 

When Salinas finally does come back, the obvious question is
where he’ll slot into the club’s lineup. If you ask Salinas, he’ll tell you he
truly doesn’t care, so long as he’s getting minutes.

“I do not have a preference,” he said. “I told the coaching
staff that I am willing to play anywhere. I’ve been watching a lot of the right
back and left back positions because I hadn’t played there much before, so I’ve been
studying players and watching the game. I am excited to go back and play that
position. It’s a lot of fun on this team because you get to go forward, so I’m
just excited to start playing again.”  

With Salinas’ return seemingly around the corner, at last,
the Furman University product is finally allowing himself to look forward to
stepping back out on the pitch.

“Oh, it’s exciting,” he said, smiling just at the thought of
playing a competitive match. “I practiced yesterday for the first time, a full
practice, and it was so fun. I was exhausted afterwards though, so just a few
more days like that and I think I’ll be good to go.”