While the rest of his Chivas USA teammates ran through training drills on Tuesday, Ryan Suarez walked slowly and gingerly to a bench. Suarez had a hood draped over his head to shield what little sunlight peered through the clouds on an overcast southern California day.
It was an upgrade over the day before, when his sensitivity to light kept him indoors with the lights off and blinds firmly closed.
Toward the end of Saturday's match against FC Dallas, Suarez took a nasty spill and slammed his head into keeper Brad Guzan's knee. He lay unconscious on the field for five minutes and later spent the night at a local hospital.
"My bell's still ringing. I've got a gnarly contusion on the back of my head," he said. "I still feel kind of dazed, very lightheaded. My eyes are still glossy."
Suarez suffered a grade-3 concussion. Doctors have ruled him out for at least two weeks, he said. Also, he won't be allowed to train with the team as doctors ordered him not to have any strenuous activity this week.
Suarez said his biggest fear is post-concussion syndrome. Saturday's concussion was the third he's had in the past five years. Suarez was scheduled to undergo a battery of tests Wednesday to determine the severity of the injury.
Still, he said he escaped further damage because of the protective headgear he wears for every match.
"The back of the head is really soft and it got hit but I thank my lucky stars that I don't much care for what people have to say about wearing the headgear," Suarez said. "People got jokes but that thing, the Full 90, saved my dome from getting split wide open."
On the play, which Suarez said he does not remember, FC Dallas striker Carlos Ruiz chased a ball inside the area. Suarez made contact with Ruiz and both players fell. Chivas USA keeper Guzan had come off his line but was right in Suarez's path. Suarez's head smacked Guzan's knee, then rattled against his own shoulder as he fell face-first onto the turf.
He said he remembered waking up in the training room "with four people [emergency personnel] that I'd never seen before."
"I had a mask on and I didn't know what was going on. I was screaming for my wife and luckily they let her in. It was a blessing. She told me what happened and as soon as she told me what happened, about three seconds later, I puked all over the floor."
Suarez said he's only seen the play once but was sickened by what he saw.
In 2001, he suffered his first concussion in Columbus. He said he was "out of it" for two weeks. Afterward, a friend suggested wearing protective headgear.
"There's no way I'll go again without wearing it," Suarez said. "At this point, I can't say enough but it probably saved my dome from me remembering who I am to knowing that my wife's pregnant.
"We don't know exactly how much (the headgear) reduced the force of (the concussion) but I just thank God I didn't care for the stereotypes and I was wearing that thing because I might not be here talking to you had I not worn it."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.