By Kevin Kinkead
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Fernando Aristeguieta is currently playing with a bum quad and a broken hand.
The Union forward suffered the hand injury during the April 5th game in Kansas City.
That next week, trainers threw a soft cast on his left ring and pinkie fingers, and it looked like Aristeguieta would be cleared to play. So, it was somewhat ironic when he missed the following game with a quad strain that he had apparently been carrying for three weeks.
Fans and media knew nothing about that injury.
It seemed like the 22-year-old on-loan forward would surely miss a few matches, but that wasn’t the case at all. Aristeguieta was once again in the starting lineup after missing just a single game.
“The quad, we’re still working on it, but the finger is good,” the forward told reporters on Wednesday. “It still hurts, and we’re still going some therapy. But as I said two weeks ago, it’s not an excuse. To play, you put the bandage on and it’s good.”
Playing through injury is hard enough, and it’s certainly one way to endear yourself to Philadelphia fans.
Beyond that, Aristeguieta has been on the receiving end of some physical play among MLS defenders. For all of his physical attributes, it’s becoming common to see the Venezuelan hauled to the ground, without a whistle from the referee.
“The most difficult thing has been the contact that referees allow,” he explained. “It’s hard, because in Venezuela and France the same contact wins you a foul. If you win a foul, you’re getting something for the team. Here, you receive more (contact) and don’t get anything from it. That’s the most difficult thing. But I think it’s a good league, it’s (offensive minded) and the teams play very vertical and fast.”
Aristeguieta has suffered 12 fouls this year, which doesn’t even rank first on the team.
Overall, 19 MLS players have been fouled more than the Union forward, including a couple of defensive midfielders and even a fullback.
Oftentimes, players new to the league will not get the same calls that veterans will receive. That’s certainly the same in basketball and football, where Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady probably get the benefit of the doubt on referee whistles.
One player who knows about physical play is fellow Union striker Conor Casey, whom Aristeguieta spoke with about the carnage.
“He just reminded me that here this (type of contact) isn’t going to be a foul,” said Aristeguieta, laughing. “He played outside of the United States, so he knows it’s different here. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, but it’s just different, and here you have to just keep going. Because the referees let the play continue.”
For what it’s worth, Aristeguieta remains in the league-wide top five in both total shots (25) and shots on goal (12). That number might be skewed because of the total games played, but it’s still a promising statistic for a team that needs positives to focus on.