Colorado Rapids Academy player Dillon Serna is one tough kid.
The 17-year old, who is in residency with the U.S. U-17 team in Bradenton, Florida, had an emergency appendectomy on Sunday, January 23. He returned to action 10 days later, and scored in a friendly over Honduras’ U-17s this past Saturday.
The U.S. team is preparing for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Jamaica next week in the tournament that will serve as qualifying for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico later this year.
“We had a game the day before (the surgery) against an Academy Team,” said Serna by phone from Florida on Monday before going to class. “After the game, my stomach was killing me so I went to Health Services at IMG, and they told me to take some ibuprofen for the pain. They thought maybe it was just bruised.
“But I couldn’t sleep at all on Saturday, and so Sunday I went back to Health Services and they told me I needed to go to the doctor. I went to the doctor and they sent me to the hospital to get an ultrasound. After that they said my appendix was inflamed and I needed to have surgery before it would rupture.”
Surgery was scheduled for 4 p.m. that afternoon, but didn’t take place until 9:30 pm when the surgery team became available.
The U.S. team was set to depart for Jamaica for their final pre-qualifying training camp two days later. Serna – who was told he was on that camp roster – was forced to miss it.
“The team arrived from Jamaica last Monday,” said Serna.“And so coach told me I needed to get to 100 percent in 10 days so I could go to qualifying.”
On Wednesday, February 2, doctors gave Serna clearance to resume training.
“After I started training last Thursday I felt like I was 100 percent and ready to go,” he said. “I played on Saturday and I wasn’t really scared or anything, it didn’t hurt at all.”
Serna entered the match against Honduras in the 33rd minute at attacking midfield. Less than a minute into the second half, he scored his second-career international goal to increase the U.S. lead to 5-0. He had previously scored against Scotland’s U-17s in a 2-1 loss last November.
Saturday’s friendly was the last match before U.S. U-17 head coach Wilmar Cabrera selects the roster that will compete at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which is expected to be announced later this week.
The U.S. opens Group B play at the CONCACAF Championship, which will send four teams to the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, on Feb. 14 against Cuba and continues on Feb. 18 versus Panama. The all-important quarterfinal will be played on Feb. 22, with the winners of the four quarterfinal matches advancing to Mexico.