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Ex-Union midfielder sorry to miss Philly trip

Shea Salinas was looking forward to returning to PPL Park, but an injury will keep the former Union midfielder from joining his Vancouver Whitecaps teammates for Saturday's Major League Soccer matchup.

Shea Salinas was looking forward to returning to PPL Park, but an injury will keep the former Union midfielder from joining his Vancouver Whitecaps teammates for Saturday's Major League Soccer matchup.

Salinas strained a knee ligament in practice on March 5 and said he is about 90 percent healthy.

"The team doesn't want me to travel unless I am 100 percent," Salinas said in a phone interview.

Salinas, who will turn 25 in June, appeared in 17 games for the Union, making seven starts and scoring a goal. He missed time due to a stress fracture but returned to finish out the season. Now he is disappointed not to be coming back to PPL Park.

"I have a lot of friends in Philadelphia who I would like to see and a lot of memories, and it would have been great to play in front of the Philadelphia fans again," Salinas said. "That isn't in the plans, so there is always the chance to play Philadelphia when they come here [on June 18]."

After last season, Salinas was claimed by Vancouver in the expansion draft. He made a strong initial impression with the Whitecaps.

"He was our best player in the preseason, without a doubt," Vancouver coach Teitur Thordarson said. "He was extremely good, and it's unfortunate he got injured."

Salinas hopes that he can return for Vancouver's next game, April 2 at home against Sporting Kansas City.

Saturday's opening 4-2 win over Toronto FC indicates the type of wide-open attack Vancouver employs, one which suits Salinas fine.

"We play a very aggressive style of soccer and press teams when they have the ball, and we don't sit around," Salinas said. "We go straight to the goal, and it's awesome to play that way."

Salinas said that he is enjoying being in Vancouver, and compares the passionate fans with those who follow the Union. The Whitecaps opened in front of a sellout crowd of 22,592.

"I had a great relationship with the Union fans and was able to get out in the community," Salinas said. "It was unfortunate I had to leave when I did, but I am really enjoying my time in Vancouver and can't wait to play in a game."

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