To call John Wolyniec's career a roller coaster ride might not do it justice.
He was drafted by the MetroStars (his hometown team) after he left Fordham as the school's all-time leading goal scorer. Then after only a few months he was cut by the "Red and Black," and he bounced around between a few MLS and A-League clubs. Finally in 2003, he was given another shot with the Metros by Bob Bradley. That is when things started to turn around.
In 2003 Wolyniec had an above average season, notching five goals and two assists. Still, people had their doubts, saying that the 2003 season was a fluke. "Woly", as he is known by his teammates, again answered the nay-sayers by tallying 10 goals (tied for the team lead with MVP Amado Guevara) in the 2004 season.
Given the two successful seasons, people would think that he would be at the top of the world. But what people don't know, is that during the month of December he could barely sit up.
"There was a lot of pain in my hip that felt like a bad cramp that just wouldn't go away," said Wolyniec of the discomfort he experienced during the offseason. "Just a couple weeks after the season ended I was having a lot of trouble sitting up and even standing. Walking was obviously a big struggle. I don't know how to explain it, except constant pain."
The pain that Wolyniec felt was not something that just "popped up." In fact, it was something that he had been playing through for the final third of the 2004 season.
"John played the entire end of the season through a lot of pain," said MetroStars head athletic trainer Stu Schwerner. "That is the kind of player that John is though. He plays through pain on a regular basis. It would take a lot for him not to play."
What made Wolyniec's injury even harder was the difficulty to diagnose the injury. It was particularly hard for the Metros medical team because it manifested itself in his hip. However once it was correctly diagnosed as a herniated disc, action was immediately taken to correct it.
The injury was being treated, and Wolyniec was well on his way to recovery, but there was one other problem: He had not worked out during the offseason because of the injury. Normally in peak physical condition, the Fordham product found himself well behind his teammates as the preseason began.
"It's frustrating because people ask me if I am 100 percent now, and it really depends on what they mean," said Wolyniec. "Am I 100 percent recovered? Not yet but I am close to it. Am I 100 percent fit? No, because I wasn't able to prepare like I usually would during the off-season. I had to start from scratch a couple of weeks ago, when I was cleared."
There is no doubt however, that when April 2 rolls around Wolyniec will be ready to go. He has climbed over hurdles in the past, and there is no doubt that he will do it again.
"This type of thing has almost become part of me," said Wolyniec. "When things are going good, something always seems to happen to bring me down. But I guess, the good thing that I can take from this is that it happened in the off-season, so I didn't have to miss any games. I am back playing now, and in a month I am going to be fully ready for the start of the season."
The MetroStars' practice this morning consisted off a mix of playing and running. The squad started off in some small group drills, and then they moved to larger games. After about an hour of this, they spent about 30 minutes running and 20 minutes stretching.
The MetroStars players got some good news on Saturday. The two-a-day schedule that was expected for the rest of the trip has been replaced with a plan for a single morning practice session each day. Most of the players don't do much with the time off, however. They spend their time resting and playing Ping-Pong inside the complex.
New MetroStars forward Youri Djorkaeff showed off his table tennis skills on Friday evening, first beating Mark Lisi in a game and then toppling Henry Ring in a tight 3-game series.
Ecuadorian Quick Fact of the Day:
In downtown Guayaquil there is a park known as Iguana Park. Enclosed in a fence is a large park with grass islands and trees. There are numerous Iguanas that lounge all day in the park among the many visitors who come to see them.