FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Teal Bunbury never realized how often soccer players use their shoulders until he injured his in the season opener at CenturyLink Field two weeks ago.
“That was my thought process: ‘Oh, it’s my shoulder. I should be fine,’” Bunbury said on Thursday afternoon, 11 days after separating his right shoulder during a heavy fall in Seattle. “But (it’s hard) even just trying to get on the elliptical, or doing little things that you kind of take for granted.
“It’s the jarring. Even just jogging in place I can still feel it feeling unstable. I’m just trying to make sure that it’s fully healed before I try to sprint. Even passing the ball you’re using your arms to do so many things, so it’s kind of tough.”
The injury sidelined Bunbury for last weekend’s trip to Yankee Stadium and will keep him out of Saturday afternoon’s home opener against the Montreal Impact, but there’s hope that the hard-working winger will be back in commission within a couple weeks.
After first taking some time to allow the swelling to decrease, Bunbury has since entered what he called “the strengthening phase,” designed to help regain the mobility he needs to move unhindered.
“I’m hoping by next week I’ll be able to do things with the ball, and then the following week it gets even better,” Bunbury said. “Then there’s also that mental barrier that I’ve just got to break through and know that it’s going to be a little uncomfortable, but I’ll be able to play with it.
“I’m still probably a couple weeks away from being fully where I feel like I could be playing and getting into shoulder-to-shoulder challenges. I’m just being a little cautious.”
Prudence is appropriate at this juncture of the season. While the natural urge is for Bunbury to rush his recovery and return to the field as quickly as possible, the risk of further injury – and a longer-tem absence – are too great with still the bulk of the schedule yet to be played.
“Now’s not the time for me to try to force anything, because then I feel like I’m going to cause more harm than good to be honest,” Bunbury said. “We can’t win the playoffs in the next few games. It’s still early.
“But definitely as players you hate being out and not being able to kick the ball around and be there with your guys playing. So I’ll definitely push myself, but I’m not going to push it too crazy where I’m being out of control with it.”