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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

McCarthy healthy again after concussion struggle

John McCarthy is back in training after three-plus agonizing weeks
out with a concussion. (Times File)
CHESTER >> No one’s quite cornered the market on frustration around the Philadelphia Union these desperate days. But few have felt the sting of the early setbacks as acutely as John McCarthy.

He’s had the double dose of disappointment in recent weeks, confined to the sidelines with a concussion for three-plus weeks while his club plunged to the foot of the MLS standings.

But as McCarthy’s condition turns around, the backup goalkeeper is hopeful that so too can the fortunes of the club at-large.

“I’m just really happy I can play soccer again,” McCarthy said at training Wednesday. “It just sucks with all the symptoms you have.”

McCarthy sustained a concussion during training March 24, catching a shot from CJ Sapong in the side of his face during a session in the Union’s international bye week. He started experiencing symptoms the next two days and was held out of practice the following week. That part of the process was difficult but anticipated.

The twist came when he returned to training shortly after the D.C. United game, then suffered a recurrence of symptoms that required him to shut things down again.

McCarthy has had concussions before – a couple in college he reckons, plus one with the Union in May 2015 that cost him a week on the sidelines. (You’ll recall the infamous day that he was concussed and Andre Blake injured a knee within minutes of each other, exacerbating the Rais M’Bolhi standoff and necessitating the acquisition of Brian Sylvestre. Ah, memories.) 

But having the effects dissipate then return was new ground for McCarthy.

“It’s not a good feeling at all,” he said. “You kind of feel lonely and sad because you don’t know. If you sprain an ankle, you might be out one week or two weeks until you’re back to full health. But a concussion, you kind of mess with your own mind and overthink some things. To be able to be out there and shut it down again, I’ve never had that type of situation before, so it was really tough.”

In his stead, Jake McGuire has filled in on the Union bench. The rookie picked up on waivers from Houston has also played twice for Bethlehem, which is likely the next step for McCarthy to regain fitness.

For the time being, at least McCarthy gets a chance to no longer be a spectator, taking a more active role in aiding the Union’s attempt to arrest their slide.

“It sucks. Losing sucks. There’s no easy way to put it,” McCarthy said. “You always want to be out there, whether it’s on the sideline in the 18 or in the XI. You always want to win. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, and it’s just a tough time right now, and nobody here wants to lose. So we’re just looking forward to getting our first win and getting on a roll.”

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