Commerce City, Colo. - Pablo Mastroeni today took the first steps to returning to the field. The team's veteran leader, who has been out with headaches and other related symptoms since March 20, was back at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Monday morning jogging as part of the first step of MLS's concussion protocol.
"We had sat down and talked about (staying out) six weeks to make sure everything was kind of healed up and to not be chasing this all year long, taking two weeks off here, two weeks there," Mastroeni told ColoradoRapids.com after his workout. "I'm starting protocol. Today I started with three 10 minute jogs, and so far, so good. No reaction to it."
After starting the first two games of the year against Columbus and Philadelphia, Mastroeni began experiencing headaches and lack of sleep, perhaps related to the hit he took to the head in the season opener against the Crew. Since then, he's remained home waiting to feel better.
"I think I started feeling good about five weeks into it, that's when I started really coming around and began to exercise again," he said. "The last 10 days I've started riding a bike and jogging, so today was about doing the jogging under supervision."
Mastroeni said he came to the stadium over the weekend and met with coach Oscar Pareja. On Monday, while Pareja and first-team were on their way to Washington DC for Wednesday's match against DC United, Mastroeni came in and worked with assistant trainer Skylar Richards while the non-traveling players trained.
"You definitely miss it, and you don't realize you miss until you're back out here on the field, even if you're just jogging around the guys training," he said.
Well known for his fitness and care for his body, the 35-year-old said he didn't have the strenghth nor did he feel comfortable excercising when he began his down time.
"It wasn't about coming back to play soccer, I just wanted to feel normal," he said.
With the symptoms now gone for some time, he says he feels ready to take on the League's protocol on head injuries, which will also include a cognitive test (imPACT Test) to better gauge his condition. Once he passes it and is symptom free, he will need the approval of the team doctor and neuropsychologist before returning to competition.
That said, he's not going to hurry anything.
"There's really no timeline," Mastroeni stressed. "First it's to go through the protocol, one step at a time. But I'm really excited to be back and start and be part of the team again."