(This week’s blog was written by Alecko Eskandarian (@alecko11), former US National Team player and current Assistant Coach of the NY Cosmos of the NASL. This article originally appeared 11/18/16 on the Players Tribune and they have graciously granted us permission to reprint it. We have read many articles about concussions, and this one really hit home on how quickly life can change for an athlete with a concussion. Concussions are not a soccer problem; they are a problem across all sports. Thanks to Alecko for addressing such an important topic and for allowing us to reprint.)
My teammate and I were standing outside RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. It was April 2003, our first home game of the season against the Chicago Fire. It was my first official appearance as a professional soccer player. It was a dream come true.
“Let’s take a picture,” he said. “I feel like this is a day we definitely want to remember.” He handed someone his digital camera, we posed together and smiled.
I was a 20-year-old rookie — picked No. 1 by D.C. United in the MLS SuperDraft just a few months prior. I hadn’t played against Kansas City in our season opener, so I had made sure to bust my ass in practice that week. A few days before the game, Coach had even pulled me aside to let me know that he was going to try to get me some minutes. So I put the word out to family and friends. My parents drove down from New Jersey, my cousin flew in from L.A., some friends came up from the University of Virginia.
But I don’t remember seeing anyone at the match. I don’t remember my name being announced over the loudspeaker. I don’t remember the roar of the crowd and the bright lights.