Santino Quaranta, D.C. United's pre-Freddy Adu teen phenom, has suffered another setback on his long, trying road back from injury. Quaranta had surgery this week to remove scar tissue from his troublesome groin adductor and faces a three- to four-week layoff.
A Baltimore native, Quaranta had been the youngest draftee (16 years, four months) in MLS history when selected by D.C. in 2001. He had a breakout rookie season, scoring five goals and setting another mark as the youngest player ever selected to the MLS All-Star Game.
But just as teammate Adu has since eclipsed both records, Quaranta has become somewhat the forgotten man of late. His production levels have slipped from season to season, mainly due to a litany of debilitating injuries. Despite not yet reaching his 20th birthday, he has faced constant health issues, including an abdominal hernia in 2002 and MCL surgery last year.
Upon his return, Quaranta has looked promising in training, but has been unable to reach match fitness. His only 2004 appearance came in the July 14 friendly with Nottingham Forest, when he came on as a second-half substitute and worked hard, despite missing an inviting chance to score the game-winner in injury time.
"Fitness is my big concern," said United coach Peter Nowak. "You never forget how to play soccer, that's for sure. What you're going to miss is only fitness, and you're going to be tired mentally, and tired physically, and your brain doesn't work the way you want."
Quaranta has struggled with lingering pain all season, and will hope for better luck after this week's procedure.
"I feel like an old man sometimes, to tell you the truth," he said after the Nottingham Forest match. "I'm in the training room every day and it just seems like it's that much harder to take care of these things, especially the groin. If I'm playing hard in a game, it's tough to come back the next morning."
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.