Shea Salinas never expected to be left unprotected.
Not after a second solid season with the San Jose Earthquakes. Not after
starting 13 of 23 games in 2009 while finishing second on the club with five
assists. Not after becoming just the third rookie since ‘01 to start the season
opener for San Jose the year before, playing 57 minutes at forward on April 3
at the L.A. Galaxy.
But there he was on the open market after the Earthquakes decided to leave him available in the MLS Expansion Draft.
The 24-year-old midfielder/defender took a positive approach and he has sure landed on his feet since being selected by the Union.
Every game means something, but this particular one runs a little deeper for Salinas.
“Anytime you play against your old team there is extra incentive even if guys say there isn't,” Salinas said. “Ultimately, you want to prove a point. You want to show them that they were wrong for letting you go and that they should have kept you.”
Coming to Philadelphia has been all positive for Salinas.
Seeing the sold-out raucous crowd in the debut of PPL Park in a 3-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC on June 27 was a major reason to be thrilled about the future with his new club.
“I’ve had a great experience here with the Union,” Salinas said. “I think you always want to do well against your former club. I have friends over there. Like Sebastien (Le Toux) against Seattle, you want to win, and then you can catch up with your friends after the game. During the game, it’s all business. Sure, I want to win, but I want it for us as a club. Will it be a little extra special? You could say that.
“It’s been such a thrill to be here with this expansion club. The fans are so passionate and having them behind us is amazing.”
Salinas has steadily improved every game, and he even earned the MLS Goal of the Week in a huge road victory at Houston.
Picking up three more points against the Earthquakes would be even more satisfying.
“It is very exciting to be playing at home,” Salinas said. “All of us are looking forward to playing at home and yeah, I do have a little extra incentive in this game.”