Walker's preseason: rehab, rehab, rehab

under the direction of MetroStars' athletic trainers Stu Schwerner and John Gallucci, Jr. -- has tirelessly worked to rehabilitate and strengthen his right shoulder. Because of Walker's dedication to his training regimen, the Metros' medical staff is optimistic that he will be cleared to play before the season opener on April 2.

"Every day (Jonny) is rehabbing and doing all the right things. He is very motivated and working very hard," said Gallucci, who has helped more than 200 athletes recover from similar shoulder injuries in his career. "He is progressing as scheduled and our hope is that by April 2, he will be ready to go."

Walker knows that the healing process does not simply happen overnight and unexpected setbacks can often set progress back days, weeks and even months. To prevent impediments while at the same time maximizing his progress, Walker has set small, attainable goals for himself each week and pushed himself to achieve those.

"If you have an operation, it is a long process," said Walker whose ten wins last season placed him third amongst all 'keepers in the league. "I think the best thing you can do is slowly make little goals for yourself and try to achieve them week to week. You just have to work day in and day out and hopefully in the end it will be ready."

Thus far, each goal he has set -- whether it be slightly improving the range of motion in his shoulder or working on some technical aspect of goalkeeping -- he has accomplished.

"It has been fantastic. I am very pleased with the progress and surprised with how it has gone so far," said Walker.

In Florida, Walker is expected to follow a stringent regimen that tests his strength, flexibility and conditioning. During the morning sessions, Walker focuses on his footwork and fitness in addition to performing minimal range of motion exercises that warm up his shoulder. Following the morning practice, he participates in active range of motion exercises with Gallucci that build up strength in his shoulder and increase its range of motion.

During the afternoon, Walker works out in a gym and participates in a cycling/running routine.

Although his days are certainly arduous, he is gracious towards the Metros' medical department.

"They are fantastic. They have been pushing me, they have really been pushing me," said Walker. "It has been a painful process but in the end it is going to pay off.

"Any professional that has achieved things through dedication, hard work and patience can appreciate the situation where it is just going to take hard work to get back."

Just about everyone, not just professionals, can appreciate that dedication.