It didn’t take long at all for Shea Salinas to get acclimated to Philadelphia.
“Right away,” Salinas said at one of the Union’s final postseason training sessions at PPL Park. “You could see the excitement for MLS around here and it was contagious. That made it even more fun. I got to know the city of Philadelphia and it has been a great experience.”
In fact, Salinas and his wife decided to stay in Philadelphia for the offseason.
“My wife has a good job in Center City and I’m going to train here,” Salinas said. “We like living in the city and walking around there. Now, we’ll probably take a vacation somewhere in the offseason, but we’ll be around. We’re really happy here.”
Salinas missed more than two months of his first season with the Union with a left fibula fracture.
While that was quite frustrating at times, Salinas learned even more about himself.
“I had to be patient even when I didn’t want to be,” Salinas said. “I knew I had to get fully healthy and there was no reason to rush. I listened to the staff and the trainers and worked like crazy to get back. When I did get back, it was a pleasure to play with these guys. We had great chemistry and great group of guys on this club.”
When Salinas received that coveted playing time, he sure performed.
The 24-year-old Salinas registered his lone goal -- which was voted the AT&T Goal of the Week -- in a 3-2 win at Houston on May 29.
“I had other chances in other games,” Salinas said. “With a full season, I’ll expect much, much more out of myself. I just wanted to win whether I played five minutes or 50 minutes. I felt like we started on a good path here. Ask any player in our locker room, and they’ll say they would trade goals for wins. Now, with a full season, I would expect more goals. Truthfully, as long as we win, I’ll be happy.”
So will the passionate fan base.
“They really gave us a lift when we needed it,” Salinas said. “As a player, it’s an awesome feeling to see that kind of support. After the game, many of those fans stick around and it’s our pleasure to sign autographs and get to know them. To think how awesome this will be as we progress is something. I know how excited I am about that.”
As the 2011 MLS season approaches, Salinas will be ready. There will be new challenges to conquer.
“As an expansion club, it’s hard to begin with,” Salinas said. “We had all those road games and we were trying to get that chemistry together. We definitely could have had more wins. It was all a learning experience. I feel like in 2011, we’re going to be a tough team to beat. Having a goal of getting to the playoffs will be in all of our minds. There’s no reason why that can’t happen. We’ll have to earn it, but I like the talent and direction of this club. Everything is pointing the right way for us.”