Three in a row was too much to ask I guess. After winning our first two games under new coach Richie Williams, we could not continue the momentum of those previous two games, and fell to Kansas City 1-0 on Sept. 12. It was a tough week leading up to the game and we were beaten up. Juan Pablo Angel was still out with a severe ankle injury, Albert Celades was nursing a leg injury and Kevin Goldthwaite was still recovering from surgery. Compounding the problem, Seth Stamler, who would play the entire game, was not 100 percent due to a groin injury.
After avoiding the training room the entire year, I went down with a lower back injury the Monday before the game. I've never had back issues, other than the occasional stiffness from playing on the artificial turf. I've played through two broken bones in my foot as well as pulled muscles throughout my career. I've always had a high pain threshold and was able to play through most injuries. Having said that, when my back went out, it made those other injuries feel like a splinter. I have never felt pain like that in my life.
The rest of the week leading up to the game was spent on the sidelines watching the rest of the team practice. It was an interesting scenario for me in that it gave me a unique perspective to witness from the outside the transformation that we have gone through in the past month. I was anxious to see if what I felt was happening, was actually happening. Under Richie, the practice ran smoothly and was specifically geared towards the way we were going to play. The guys were competitive and focused. Certain guys that had to step up in lieu of injured players were doing just that.
What can I say about the game? We didn't play the greatest first half, but were good enough to go into halftime tied. However, 10 or so minutes into the game we gifted them a goal and were never able to equalize, even though we created numerous chances in the second half. If we can take anything away from that game it's the fact that the guys worked hard and deserved to get out of there with at least a tie.
A few days after the Kansas City game, I took a 1½-hour drive into New York City to see our team doctor regarding my back. In fact, it was killing me so much that the team hired a car service so that I could sprawl out in the back seat to minimize the pain. I was prepared to get an MRI, x-ray, multiple shots, even sell my soul to find out what was wrong and get rid of the pain.
Upon arriving at the hospital, the doctor slipped out of surgery, still in scrubs, to see me for all of three minutes. Bend this way, now that way, cross your eyes and cough. Diagnosis: strained muscles and a possible lower back sprain. Three medications were prescribed and I was told I should be back playing within three days.
I asked the doctor (whom I like and respect) if he was taking whip-its, because the way I felt, I was a step away from a wheelchair. Well, the good ol' doc was right, because I was running around like a psycho three days later (and the muscle relaxers he prescribed were a nice touch). Primed and ready, I faced the New England Revolution on Sept. 18. The Revs are always a handful to play against. They're one of a few teams in the league that are consistent every year. You always know what to expect but can't always stop it.
Shalrie Joseph and Jeff Laurentowitz are among the best midfield combinations in MLS. They can control the ball, make accurate passes and, above all, deliver bone-crushing tackles. They, along with veteran Steve Ralston, are the core of that team. When they went up 1-0 midway through the first half, we knew it would be tough to equalize.
We kept fighting and fighting, with John Wolyniec throwing his body around with reckless abandon. It was bittersweet when he got the equalizer late in the game, because he also sustained an ankle injury that ended his season. Great play and goal, but to lose a warrior like John is tough to swallow. We followed that up with a 1-1 tie against Chivas this weekend as we continue to play spoilers to teams in the thick of the playoff race. Talk to you again soon.