MacMath healthy after concussion, back in net for Union

Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath

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BOYDS, Md. – Zac MacMath is someone who always likes to be doing something.

Naturally, then, it wasn’t easy for him when he wasn’t able to do much of anything as he recovered from two concussions suffered in the span of two weeks last month. After the second one, the Philadelphia Union goalkeeper missed two straight league games and the Union’s first US Open Cup contest, before returning for Philly’s fourth-round USOC victory over D.C. United on Tuesday.

“It’s hard because there’s not much you can do except rest and be patient,” MacMath told MLSsoccer.com. “And that’s what I tried to do.”

In his long-awaited return, MacMath looked sharp and comfortable, making a couple of big saves to help the Union earn a 2-1 extra time win over D.C. and advance to the USOC quarterfinals against USL Pro affiliate Harrisburg.

“I learned a little bit of patience on the way,” he said. “I’m happy I’m fully recovered and hopefully staying healthy.”

During his time away, MacMath sought the consult of Union staffers Alecko Eskandarian and Josh Gros, both of whom had their careers cut short because of concussions, as well as ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, who’s worked tirelessly to promote awareness about the long-term effects of concussions.

Only after getting fully cleared by doctors and practicing in protective headgear did MacMath return to the field this week – although the headgear part is still something he’s getting used to.

“It’s not comfortable, that’s for sure,” MacMath said. “I didn’t like it in training and I didn’t like it in this game. But it’s for my safety and I know that. I want to have a long career and this is going to help me do that.”

Torres set to return

Another Union player who’s battled with injuries this season is midfielder Roger Torres.

But after being sidelined since early April with a sprained MCL – an injury he sustained during a Reserve League game – Torres is set to return for Saturday’s friendly against PDL affiliate Reading United AC at Reading’s Shirk Stadium (7 pm ET).

“He’s not feeling any kind of pain and he’s striking the ball very well,” Nowak said. “But his workload will have to be monitored.”

Torres has one assist in just 72 minutes this season. His return might create an interesting situation in Philly’s already crowded midfield that features Gabriel Gomez, Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu, Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel, Kai Herdling and Michael Lahoud, among others.

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.