Despite being just 25 years old, midfielder Shea Salinas has carved a well-traveled path in Major League Soccer, and now he is back to where he started.
A member of the Union's inaugural team in 2010, Salinas was enjoying a breakout season this year with the San Jose Earthquakes until he was wrestled down by the New York Red Bulls' Rafael Marquez in a 2-2 tie on April 14.
Besides the hard tackle, Marquez kicked Salinas when he was down.
(Here is the link to the play: http://bit.ly/JDybax)
Remarkably, there was no foul called on the play. Salinas broke his clavicle and will likely be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
Marquez was later given a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine.
So Salinas, who truly enjoyed his one season playing with Philadelphia, was looking forward to coming to PPL Park for Saturday's 7 p.m. game between San Jose (5-1-1) and the suddenly revived Union, who are 2-3-1, but 2-0-1 in the last three games.
"It's disappointing to miss any game," said Salinas in a phone interview. "What was really disappointing is that I had been playing well and the team was winning games."
Salinas plans to attend Saturday's game. He says his best moment with the Union was participating in the first-ever game at PPL Park in Chester. Salinas had seven starts in 17 games with the team.
That was June 27, 2010, and the Union notched a 3-1 victory over Seattle.
"I started and played the entire 90 [minutes], my family was there, and we won - so that is something I will always remember," he said.
He'll also remember his latest injury.
"I was hurt on the tackle, the weight of [Marquez's] body landing on my shoulder, and I didn't feel the kick at the time," he said. "Once I saw the replay, I saw the kick and I don't know what part that had [in the injury]."
Salinas had started the first six games before the injury.
He played his first two years in San Jose, then was claimed in 2010 by the Union and in 2011 by the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps before returning to to Earthquakes this season.
To his credit, Salinas didn't criticize the league's decision to suspend Marquez for on;y three games.
"I think he was a little aggressive on that play," Salinas said, in an understatement. "It is not my place to judge what punishment should be and I know I'm out six to eight weeks."
The discipline is handed down from a five-member panel.
While one could argue Marquez's intent on the tackle - and not many would take his side on it - there is no dispute that he crossed the line by kicking Salinas.
"The kick is one that endangers player safety and is completely outside acceptable behavior in our field," said Nelson Rodriguez, MLS executive vice president for competition and game operations, who is not one of the five members on the panel. "There was not necessarily great force in the kick. It was part of the continued motion of him falling on Salinas. As a consequence, the sense was three games for that action were appropriate."
The force of the kick shouldn't matter as much as the intent, and anybody who kicks a player is attempting to hurt them. So putting the tackle aside, the kick alone deserved a far greater penalty.
Nowak banned for two games. Union manager Peter Nowak, who will not be on the sidelines for Saturday's match against San Jose due to a suspension for his role in a fight that erupted during Saturday's game at Chivas USA, will miss another.
On Thursday, MLS commissioner Don Garber fined both Nowak and the Union $5,000 and suspended Nowak for an added game, against Seattle on May 5. Nowak could not be reached for comment.