The symptoms started on an early afternoon in May, about 15 weeks ago, when Seth Sinovic returned home from a Sporting Kansas City practice. As he recalls, he simply sat down on his couch to relax before he noticed an uncomfortable feeling.
It originated in his eyes, which wouldn’t correctly focus. He felt nauseous, and there was a bit of a headache, too.
“I thought it was just some sort of bug for a while,” Sinovic said. “I thought I might be sick.”
It wasn’t an illness. A few days later, after the spell forced Sinovic to remove himself from Sporting KC’s starting lineup, he was diagnosed with a concussion — the result of a head-to-head collision he absorbed during a May 9 match against D.C. United.
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It’s been more than three months, and he still hasn’t returned to the field.
“The frustrating part of the process for me is there’s no perfect timeline with a concussion,” Sinovic said. “You feel like you’re making progress, and one day something doesn’t go right, and you have to take a step back for awhile.”
A slow process could be nearing its conclusion. Finally.
Sinovic has returned to Sporting KC training as a full participant, and after reporting no ill-effects, he could be in line for his first appearance since the May 9 injury. Coach Peter Vermes said he hopes to get Sinovic some minutes when the club plays in Colorado at 8 p.m. Saturday, though he noted it is far from a lock.
Another uncertainty: What can you reasonably expect from a player who has been sidelined by a head injury for more than three months?
“I wish I had an answer. I wish you had the ability to replicate an MLS game in practice, but you just don’t,” Vermes said. “A lot of that has to do with the confidence level of the player, and where the player feels he is. It’s an unknown.”
And that’s been a key word throughout the process — unknown.
In the same game Sinovic suffered a concussion, Graham Zusi was diagnosed with one. But Zusi appeared in a match only two weeks later.
Sinovic said he initially felt no effects from his collision, though it required stitches on his head. He also completed a few practices with no reported incidents, either.
The symptoms he later experienced were intermittent, and they didn’t appear to have a single, underlying cause, preventing Sinovic from placing a timetable on his availability.
“The thing I’m learning about concussions is there is no one right answer,” Sinovic said. “There have been times I thought I was ready to go, and then you test it and realize you’re not ready. It’s definitely not easy.”
Since returning to practice nearly a month ago, however, Sinovic said he hasn’t had any limitations. Two weeks ago, he participated in a scrimmage against a local soccer club and played 45 minutes.
“That was something I really needed, just from a mental standpoint as much as anything,” Sinovic said. “I was finally doing normal stuff out there and realizing I was OK.”
While Sinovic says he’s close to 90 minutes fit, Vermes put the return on a more cautious timeline. If Sinovic is able to play Saturday, Vermes mentioned 45-60 minutes as a reasonable expectation.
The club can certainly use him.
Sporting KC has allowed 11 goals in its last three matches, during which three different players have spent time playing left outside defender, a position Sinovic has owned. He made 92 starts there during 2012-14.
“It’s definitely the longest I’ve ever been out in my career, and it hasn’t been fun — at all,” Sinovic said. “I’m a competitive guy. It’s my nature. I’m ready to get back out there in that competitive atmosphere and help us win games.”
To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcDowell11. Tap here to download The Star’s free Extra Time KC soccer app for iOS and Android devices.