Commerce City, Colo. – In his 14 years as a professional, midfielder Pablo Mastroeni doesn’t recall an injury like the hit to the head he sustained against Real Salt Lake on October 14.
“It was eight long days of the unknown,” he told ColoradoRapids.com on Tuesday morning. “But cognitively I’m supposedly all intact so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m now feeling better and getting ready to take part in some physical tests to see where I’m at as far as physically being able to perform and to see when I’m ready to come back and play.”
In the 71st minute of the Rocky Mountain Cup match, Mastroeni and Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave both jumped to head the ball, when it appeared the Olave’s arm hit Mastroeni on the back of the head. Olave was shown a yellow card and Mastroeni was removed from the game and taken to the locker room and later diagnosed with a concussion.
Mastroeni, who scored his first career playoff goal in the 1-0 victory over Columbus in the first leg of 2010 Eastern Conference series, completed a weight room session and jogged for over 30 minutes on Tuesday. He isn’t ready to say he’ll be able to play Thursday when the teams meet in the Wild Card game, but he’s not counting out it, either.
“The great thing now is that Major League Soccer has set up a protocol that everyone has to follow in order to get back to playing,” he said. “So for me it’s about doing all the things I need to do to get back to 100 percent physical health to be able to compete, and not so much to try to get back at any particular time.”
MLS makes all players that show even the mildest symptoms of concussions take and pass various tests administered by a neuropsychologist to show they are asymptomatic both when resting and after exertion. And while Mastroeni said he has passed these tests this week, he wants to be sure he can be the same player he’s been when he returns to action.
“It’s not only for myself and my health,” he said. “But you want to make sure you’re giving 100 percent on the field, too. If you can’t do that then you’re not going to be a service to your team.”