FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England midfielder Pat Phelan's unusual spate of injuries started with a seemingly innocuous moment during a training session a couple of weeks ago.
Phelan went up for a simple header as part of a crossing and finishing drill last month and sustained a concussion in the process.
“It's the first concussion I've ever had without any contact [from another player],” Phelan told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “I headed the ball off the back of my head during crossing and finishing and then, five minutes later, I headed one into the goal. It knocked my legs out from underneath me and everything got a little brighter. That's why the headgear is on at practice now every day.”
The lingering effects forced Phelan to miss matches against Sporting Kansas City (April 23) and Chivas USA (April 30), but he expected to carve out a place in the squad for last weekend's 0-0 draw with Colorado. Phelan looked on course to return until a peculiar shin injury flared up last week after he belatedly felt the impact of a shin-to-shin collision with Revolution defender Darrius Barnes.
“It's a little odd,” Phelan said. “I've never had anything like it before. There's no padding there, so if you get hit there, it's going to hurt for a while. That's what shinguards are for, right?”
Phelan's shin injury kept him out against the Rapids, but he hopes to feature in some way heading into this weekend's clash with Vancouver (Saturday, 7:30 pm, Direct Kick and MatchDay Live).
“I'm not used to being hurt since I've been a professional, with the exception of an occasional concussion,” Phelan said. “I've always prided myself on at least being available to play, so it's been frustrating for me. But I've been getting back into it and, hopefully, I'll be in the 18 this weekend.”
Nicol, Burns spend week scouting in Europe
Phelan and his teammates proceeded through their regular paces without Revolution coach Steve Nicol supplying instructions from the sideline. Nicol and vice president of player personnel Michael Burns spent much of the week in Europe on a scouting mission.
While Burns and Nicol are expected to return to the Boston area at some point on Friday after presumably watching a midweek match, the preparations for the Whitecaps' visit on Saturday night progressed without a hitch, according to Revolution assistant coach Stephen Myles.
“It's business as usual,” Revolution assistant coach Stephen Myles said. “You've seen us work now for most of the season. We'll do the same things. We'll keep the lads ticking over. We'll keep it nice and bright and busy. Obviously, the priority is getting ready for Saturday, like we do every week.”
Familiar face returns for the summer
Akron midfielder Scott Caldwell linked up with the Revolution this week to participate in a few training sessions.
Caldwell, a Braintree, Mass., native, will practice with the Revs on five occasions over the next two weeks as he looks to keep in shape and retain his fitness levels after recently completing his sophomore year with the Zips.
The rising junior and former Revolution Academy player has trained with the first team in the past. As he prepared to return to Massachusetts for the summer, he said he got in touch with Burns and director of youth development Bryan Scales to ensure he could reprise the arrangement and take advantage of what he calls “another great opportunity” to practice with the Revs.
“It'll keep me fit and [it'll help me] try to get better,” Caldwell said. “Obviously, I'll be playing with better players. I'm trying to improve every day.”