When Charleston Battery striker Omar Salgado slid across the damp field for the tackle, he felt his right foot catch in the soft turf at Blackbaud Stadium and immediately thought the worst.
WHO: New York Red Bulls (reserves) vs. Charleston Battery
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Blackbaud Stadium
The former No. 1 overall pick of the Vancouver Whitecaps had broken the same foot three times in the last two years, and a fourth break might have meant an end to what had once been promising professional career in soccer.
Salgado hopped back to his feet, took a few tentative steps, and tested his foot as play continued in the Battery's game against the Richmond Kickers two weeks ago.
"When it happened I wasn't really sure how bad it was," said Salgado, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. "Right after the tackle I was able to play, so I didn't think it was that bad, but it did hurt."
Salgado hobbled around the field for a few more minutes, but after trying to run down a ball, he quickly realized that it was probably more prudent for the Battery's medial staff to take a look at his foot and avoid further injury. Salgado was taken to a local hospital where an emergency room doctor gave him the worst possible news - the foot was broken again.
Two days later, he sent the X-rays to his doctor in California and spent a long, soul-searching afternoon waiting on the results and word on his future.
"I had worked so hard to get fit again and to hurt the same foot was a scary moment," Salgado said.
Salgado's doctor called him back and told the young striker that his foot wasn't broken. He would need an additional MRI to confirm it, but he thought that it was only a sprain.
Three thousand miles away, the relief washed over Salgado.
"It was great news. It was the best news I could have gotten at that point," Salgado said. "We did another test, took a few more X-rays, and the doctors said it wasn't broken. They just didn't know my history here. I was so excited to hear that news, that it wasn't that bad. I knew I'd be back pretty soon."
Salgado is hoping to return to the field Friday night when the Battery faces the reserve team of the MLS' New York Red Bulls. Salgado took part in some light training this week.
"I feel great and I hope I can get a few minutes against the Red Bulls," Salgado said. "I'm ready to go. I really want to get out there and play."
Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser isn't eager to rush Salgado back onto the field.
"We want to make sure Omar is 100 percent healthy before he gets back out there," Anhaeuser said. "It's early in the season, there's no rush, there's still a lot of soccer left to be played. We want to be cautious with him and make sure we don't rush to get him back on the field and risk another injury."
Salgado is set to join the United States' U-21 national team on Sunday for a week of training.
"I'm looking forward to training with those guys," Salgado said. "It'll be good to get a full week of training with them."
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