Photo by ISIphotos.com
By JEFFREY KRAUSE
Nobody should question Chicago Fire captain Logan Pause's threshold for pain and drive to return to the field from injury after what transpired in the last month.
During an Aug. 12 game against the Philadelphia Union, Pause, 31, was defending a corner kick when Bakary Soumare, his former teammate on the Fire and current Union defender making his team debut, elevated for the ball, inadvertently striking Pause from behind. The knee to Pause's back caused him to crumble to the ground, where he received treatment from the Fire medical staff before returning to play.
He pressed on in the match, before eventually coming off a few minutes later. What Pause did not know, but would find out after exiting, is that he sustained two broken ribs and a pneumothorax — a collapsed lung — on the play.
"When I got hit, I knew something was wrong," said Pause, who acknowledged that Soumare had no intent to injure and that it was just a freak circumstance. "I tried to push through it, and I couldn't catch my breath. I was out there for another 10 minutes, but it was at a very gingerly pace. It wasn't like I was trying to be a hero or get through it, I just got to a point where it just wasn't anything I could manage."
Three weeks later, Pause surprised many when his name appeared on the Fire's matchday roster Sunday night for a crucial game against the Houston Dynamo. It was one thing for Pause to be available for selection so soon. It was another when he took to the field in the closing minutes. While many have lamented that his return to the pitch was too soon, Pause said it was all a natural progression of his recovery.
"Ten days out from the injury I had another X-ray. It said my collapsed lung had healed, which was the big sticking point," Pause said. "I think once we got over that hurdle, it was pain management, just dealing with the broken ribs.
"As soon as I'd heard that the collapsed lung had healed, I asked them what I was able to do. They told me I could do whatever I could tolerate, so that day I exercised. Each day I just moved it along, I started on the spin bike, then ran. We had an off weekend, and I came back and joined the team the following week in training."
Fire head coach Frank Klopas commended Pause after Sunday night's win, not only for his availability and willingness to contribute, but also his impact on the pitch as an inspiration to his teammates and fans.
"He really wanted to start this game, which was a remarkable comeback," Klopas said. "You have a guy like that; he’s the captain for a reason. He just wanted to go. It was a great lift for the team at that moment, and I think being home and with the fans, I think he lifted the team in the last five minutes that he came in and did a great job."
Although Pause only appeared in the closing minutes his recovery was tested immediately. Houston midfielder Brad Davis came in with a strong challenge on Pause during a Jalil Anibaba throw-in just seconds after his entry in the game. After the throw-in, which landed to Pause's chest, the Fire captain had some words for the second year right back.
"I was giving him a hard time," Pause said. "I was telling him to keep me out of those situations. I was hoping he would throw it to my head so I could flick it on and he threw it to my body."
Even in spite of still nursing two broken ribs that are not fully healed, and the discomfort that comes along with it, Pause feels like he's ready to step back in and contribute to the club on the pitch, bringing the leadership to the clubhouse for which he's become known. The club having another 10-day stretch between league games during the international break will certainly help his healing process, as he looks to reclaim a place in the starting lineup that had been his for every game this season until the injury.
"Things have progressed enough that I, as well as the training and coaching staff, had the confidence to use me," Pause said. "I just wanted to reassure them that I'm confident enough in where my health is that I felt like I could start."