Scott Sealy can’t help but give a half-chuckle when asked if he’s at 100 percent, physically.
“Four years ago, yeah,” the San Jose Earthquakes attacker told MLSsoccer.com.
But this isn’t 2007, when Sealy was finishing up a stretch where he scored 26 goals in three seasons for Kansas City. It’s 2011, where Sealy’s will and desire to play are being undermined by his balky hamstrings and groin.
“Every time I feel like I can come out here and practice or help the team in a game, I’m out there,” Sealy said. “I’m not trying to shy away from anything. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent. I wouldn’t say I’m 50 percent. It’s somewhere in between. It’s a long process. Hopefully, it gets better.”
Sealy’s health will be taking on greater import in the month of June. With Ryan Johnson already in Jamaica’s Gold Cup training camp and Chris Wondolowski reporting for US duty after the Quakes’ visit to Chicago on Saturday (8:30 pm ET; Direct Kick, MatchDay Live), San Jose must replace, at least temporarily, a big chunk of their offensive firepower.
Sealy, a sixth-year MLS vet with 31 career league goals, would be at or near the top of coach Frank Yallop’s list of choices if not for the muscle strains that have bedeviled the 29-year-old Trinidadian since he returned to San Jose in early 2010 after a year spent playing in Israel.
“The recurring injuries with Scotty, he just can’t seem to get healthy,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s tough stuff. … When he’s 100 percent fit and healthy, he’s a good player. When he’s in between, he struggles. But anyone struggles [in that situation].”
Sealy won Yallop’s favor at the end of last season, supplanting Khari Stephenson in the Quakes lineup and serving as a catalyst in the center of San Jose’s midfield. With Wondolowski gone, Sealy would be a natural to slide in behind target forward Steven Lenhart.
That’s part of why Sealy is trying to play through his injuries — the latest being a left hamstring strain that has him listed as “questionable” on the Quakes’ official injury report — rather than shutting himself down for a significant length of time.
“Rest obviously helps, but during the season, how long could I really rest for?” Sealy said. “Are you going to rest to get better and miss two months of the season or do I keep trotting on [the field] and hopefully things will get better? I don’t think they want me to rest; they don’t want me out for four or five weeks. And I don’t want to be out for four or five weeks.”
Sealy is taking the opposite tack from Quakes defender Tim Ward, who suffered a strained hamstring in training camp. Ward hasn’t played all year while dealing with several rehab setbacks, although he was training fully this week.
The 29-year-old Sealy has started three matches this year, but didn’t go more than 64 minutes in any of those games. His longest stint was an unplanned 75 minutes to close out San Jose’s penalty-kick defeat to the Chicago Fire in US Open Cup qualifying play on Tuesday. Sealy, who had been told he’d probably go 15 or 20 minutes, had to come on at the half after rookie Ellis McLoughlin had his own groin problem.
Sealy, who hadn’t played since May 11, wound up on the field for the second half and 30 minutes’ worth of OT with only a couple of full training sessions under his belt. And it showed in his performance, which ended in representative fashion with Sealy banging the final PK off the crossbar, down off the ground and away from the goalmouth, giving the Fire a 5-4 win.
That won’t dissuade him from continuing to give it a go as often as possible.
“Obviously you come in and you play one week, then you’re out one week, play two weeks and then you’re out two weeks, it’s tough to get a rhythm going,” Sealy said. “But that’s just how it is. That’s the game. “Right now, [I’m] just trying to get a mental aspect, knowing that, alright, it’s not always going to be great, but I’ve got to find a way and find myself within what we’re doing here to help the team be successful.”