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Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

A flippin' pain: Real Salt Lake's Espindola out a few weeks as flip ends in ankle injury

By Michael Black, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Sept. 10 12:07 a.m. MDT

 Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola celebrates his goal against the Colorado Rapids with a flip. He injured himself doing the same thing last week against the Galaxy on a goal that was later disallowed.

Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola celebrates his goal against the Colorado Rapids with a flip. He injured himself doing the same thing last week against the Galaxy on a goal that was later disallowed.

(Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press)

LEHI — Injuries often prove athletes are people, too.

When Real Salt Lake forward Fabian Espindola injured himself celebrating a goal by doing backflips Saturday night in the team's 2-2 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy, it was an unfortunate incident. But it was only another reminder of how freak occurrences and bizarre events can result in players getting hurt.

Espindola is expected to miss the next four to eight weeks with an ankle sprain after the original diagnoses of a broken bone proved to be incorrect and only a sprain was found in an MRI. He thought he had scored a ninth minute goal — the goal was later called back due to a delayed offsides call — and celebrated with a couple of backflips. He came down funny and immediately was taken off the field.

"This has never happened to me. I don't know why it happened," Espindola said after the game. "I've done it thousands of times before. I guess it had to happen sooner or later."

It was the same celebration he used after scoring a goal against Colorado at home a couple of weeks ago without incident, and it was the same display RSL coach Jason Kreis used on numerous occasions following one of his 108 career goals.

"I did hurt myself once," said Kreis of doing back flips after scoring. "I was told by a lot of people I should stop after I got to a certain age. I definitely slowed it down when I was older."

Kreis may have slowed his acrobatics, but he also understands the reasoning behind the exuberance.

"I would never reprimand a player for doing that," Kreis added. "I think that is important. I think that is why the fans come to the game. They pay good money to see the passion and excitement of a goal. Fabian is a passionate player, and he likes to show it. It just as easily could have happened the morning of the game that he falls down the steps and is unavailable."

Examples of weird injuries are all over the sports world. Clint Barmes of the Colorado Rockies hurt himself falling down the stairs at his apartment complex. Making the story even more bizarre was the fact that it happened while he was carrying a large amount of deer venison given to him from teammate Todd Helton.

Quarterback Gus Frerotte injured his neck in a post-touchdown celebration. While with the Redskins, he banged his helmet — and head with it — against a wall and was forced from the game and missed several weeks with a sprained neck.

Baseball player Moises Alou, most recently with the New York Mets, missed the entire 1999 season with a torn ACL that he got with a freak treadmill accident.

Kicker Bill Gramatica tore his ACL when landing funny after jumping up to celebrate a made field goal while Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. missed the rest of the national championship football game against Florida after he was injured celebrating with his teammates after taking the opening kickoff back for a touchdown.

Accidents happen.

RSL forward Kenny Deuchar should be used to seeing things wrong with the human body. After all, he is a licensed physician back in his home country of Scotland. But even he admits that some of the things that happen either on or away from the pitch make a person think.

"Back home, we had a guy that got kicked in the neck and actually had a cardiac arrest," Deuchar said. "Luckily, they got him to a hospital quick enough and he was fine after that. (Unfortunately), he wasn't able to play football after that. That was pretty bizarre. That was one that hit home the most. I was back home and he was just a young boy and starting out his career. But it was all right because they found he had that heart problem and now he is healthy."

Almost all players experience some type of injury during their career. One just never knows how or when it will happen.

"I tore my ACL in Giants' Stadium," said RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. "It was on the new turf, and I was just throwing a ball out. I went to throw it and planted my leg and my knee gave. Nobody was around me or anything, so you just never know."

The physical nature of the game of soccer lends itself to some pretty gruesome injuries.

"I haven't seen that many odd injuries," said midfield Clint Mathis. "That one of Fabian's was pretty different just on a goal celebration. Most of what I have seen just came during the game. I remember in college seeing a guy get his leg broken pretty badly."

"I broke my leg twice in a year in the same place," said Deuchar. "I've got a nail in my leg now that I got when I was 19-, 20 year-old. That was hard at the time, but luckily I haven't had anything more serious since then."

Those accidents happened on the field, but there are always the head-scratchers that happen away from it. Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was burned while ironing his shirt. The story got even more exposure because he was still wearing it at the time.

Even coaches trying motivational ploys can sometimes contribute to the injury bug. Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio put a wooden stump in the locker room and told his players to, 'keep chopping wood,' or to keep working hard. The players would use an axe and take a few chunks from the stump. Punter Chris Hanson missed and hit his non-kicking leg injuring himself badly enough he missed the remainder of the season.

Although Espindola's injury came in a way that made headlines around the league, his coaches and teammates stand behind him completely.

"It is too bad that it had to happen to him right now when he has just been picking up some steam," said Deuchar. "We hope he recovers fast so that we can have him back for our playoff push, or in the playoffs if we get there.

"I know I won't be doing any somersaults any time soon," he added. "I'm actually glad I can't do them and don't have to worry about getting hurt doing one."


E-mail: mblack@desnews.com

Recommended
1. Runnerboy3118
,
Sept. 10, 2008

I think coach got it right on with this:
"I would never reprimand a player for doing that," Kreis added. "I think that is important. I think that is why the fans come to the game. They pay good money to see the passion and excitement of a goal. Fabian is a passionate player, and he likes to show it."

I wish it never happened, but I think we will still make it to the playoffs, and he should be back for that. Get better soon Fabian!!

Also, was anyone else really annoyed with the announcers of the game on sat? I was thinking L.A. had good commentators last year.

2. Lame....
,
Sept. 10, 2008

...Act like you've scored before. Backflips? Please, I think you just cost your team the playoffs.

3. Re Lame....
,
Sept. 10, 2008

Espindola did not cost this team the playoffs. If we really want to point fingers (IF we dont make the playoffs, really big IF) then the blame goes to the whole team on a couple of occasions. To list a few: the draw with LA at home, Chicago at home, San Jose at home, and Kansas City at home are all prime examples of why this team wouldnt make the playoffs IF they dont.
A guy doing a backflip cuz he scored has a freak injury is not. Espy is the only reason we are still in it in my opinion, every game he has been there he does not fail

4. David O
,
Sept. 10, 2008

What a complete and total idiot. This is why soccer will never be big in the US except to kids and high schoolers.

5. Roger
,
Sept. 10, 2008

This story is a metaphor for the whole RSL organization. From the top down, they are all a bunch of clowns.