KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kevin Alston couldn't do a whole lot to mitigate the impact or the pain of a stiff left big toe joint prior to New England's 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City this past Saturday.
That fact did not stop Alston from attempting to address the issue — one that cropped up toward the end of the 2-2 draw at Colorado last weekend — with a series of remedies ranging from encasing his foot in a plastic boot to taking a shot to address the pain.
“I've been in the boot trying to just to take all of the pressure off of it, calm it down and get the some of the inflammation out of it,” Alston told MLSsoccer.com after he gutted out 78 minutes at Livestrong Sporting Park. “I put a little carbon fiber insert in my shoe, so I can't really bend my foot as much. I'm just trying to get it right, but it's one of those injuries where it's your main toe and you can't really avoid it.”
Although Alston (pictured above) did not practice with his teammates during the week, he managed to submit one of his best shifts of the season against SKC in his usual role at right back. Alston said he didn't let the pain impact his usual duties.
“Once I was really going, I didn't think about it,” Alston said. “The adrenaline starts flowing. It was fine.”
The energy of the match kept Alston going until he started to cramp up in the late stages. At that point, Alston said he had no choice but to come off the field and start the process of preparing for Saturday's home date with Chivas USA.
“I've been in the boot all week and I hadn't really stepped on my foot, so my calf started to cramp up,” Alston said. “It's hard.”
Guy slides back to pick up the slack
Alston's cramping situation forced Revolution boss Steve Nicol to throw right winger Ryan Guy into the fray as a makeshift right back.
“It's always a positive to get in the match, but it's always very upsetting when you're losing a great player like Kevin,” Guy said. “He's so strong in his position. We all knew what was going on with him, though, and we were just hoping he'd make it through the match. Unfortunately, it didn't happen and I had to take over the role.”
Guy took over Alston's position with Nicol bereft of natural fullback options and Darrius Barnes shunted into a left back role for the suspended Chris Tierney. Although Guy usually plays further up the field, he said he wanted to do whatever he could help the team.
“We're all professionals here and if we're asked to do something we go out and do what we can,” Guy said. “It's just unfortunate that there were a few controversial calls, and, I think, one thing led to the other and you end up getting a goal scored on you.”
Troublesome shoulder sends McCarthy to the sidelines again
Nicol's decision to insert Guy marked his second injury-enforced substitution of the match. Kenny Mansally replaced Stephen McCarthy in the 34th minute after the rookie midfielder re-injured his left shoulder in a collision outside the Sporting Kansas City penalty area.
McCarthy said his balky shoulder fell out of the joint for the first time — and stayed out for five seconds or so before it popped back into place when he rolled over — as the impact aggravated the persistent knock.
In an attempt to avoid a similar fate in the future, McCarthy said he planned to return to wearing a restrictive shoulder brace that he used to keep his shoulder in place earlier this season before receiving the all-clear to ditch it.
“It's been healed twice now,” McCarthy said as he sat in front of his locker in a shoulder sling. “I guess I just need to wear a brace, no matter what, even if it's healed. I guess it doesn't matter now. I'm going to do it.”
Old friends battle on the wings
Revolution forward Zack Schilawski lined up against a familiar foe when he took his spot on the right side of the Revolution's 4-3-3 setup against Sporting: ex-Revolution left back Seth Sinovic.
New England waived Sinovic on March 31 after he made 20 appearances during his rookie season, but the Leawood, Kan., native signed with his hometown club in May after trial stints with Real Salt Lake and Seattle.
Schilawski and Sinovic struck up a friendship last year as they went through their first professional season together. That bond meant this particular head-to-head battle held a little bit of special meaning for Schilawski.
“It was fun,” Schilawski said. “It's always good to see him. He was a good friend of mine when he was here. He's a tough player. I thought he had a good game and it was fun to play against him, for sure.”
Sinovic said he relished the chance to square off against Schilawski on the field and savored the opportunity to catch up with a few of his former teammates during their visit to Kansas City.
“I mean, we talked a few times during the game and I saw him a little before the game,” Sinovic said after Sporting went through its paces at Swope Park on Monday morning. “It was fun. It was good to see those guys. Obviously, I love it here, but I also miss the guys on the [Revs] as well. It was a good time.”