When D.C. United midfielder Domenic Mediate suffered a fracture in his right leg in August in a game against the Los Angeles Galaxy, he wondered whether he ever would play again.
It was the former Maryland star's most serious injury in a short career littered with broken bones.
"I remember sitting in the hospital and thought, 'This could be it,' " said Mediate, 25, who sustained a spiral brake of his right fibula when the Galaxy's Ugo Ihemelu tackled him from behind. "The injuries were building up, and I was thinking, 'What am I going to do after soccer? Am I going to walk when I'm older if I keep doing this?' I was thinking maybe I should start looking for my real career."
When United released him in March, his doubt grew worse.
"It got even tougher," Mediate said. "I knew a team wouldn't want me injured."
Mediate, who played in eight games for United (two starts) in 2006, spent the spring getting healthy and last week was re-signed by the club. He is on the roster for United's game today at the Kansas City Wizards.
"Domenic has come back strong from his injury, and he's someone you can always count on no matter what position you put him in," United coach Tom Soehn said.
Mediate's first serious playing injury occurred in 2000 as a high school senior in Dallas, when he suffered a broken right orbital rim (the bone around the eye socket). The next year as a freshman at Maryland, he broke his left orbital rim bone and part of his jaw in a collision with another player. That same year, he also suffered three hernias.
He also broke both of his collarbones — the right one when he was 12 years old and the left one while playing in the NCAA tournament in 2003.
"All my coaches told me I play like a kamikaze," Mediate said.
Despite all his injuries, he still ended his college career with 27 goals and 17 assists.
At one point, Mediate thought he had brittle bones and decided to undergo a bone density scan.
"The test turned out OK," he said. "I realized it maybe was the way I played."
While struggling to recover from his broken leg, Mediate sought advice from his old college coach and mentor, Sasho Cirovski. The Maryland coach told him he could bounce back from the broken leg and urged him not to quit.
"He told me to stay in the area and that if it didn't work after one more try, then I should move on," Mediate said.
In April Mediate began training with United again. He played in four reserve games and scored a goal.
Last week United waived club defender John Wilson, and Mediate was brought in to take the open spot.
After starting his MLS career with the Columbus Crew in 2005, Mediate says he's coming back to United as a wiser player for his second stint.
"I have to look more closely at the way a play is developing and to calculate my tackles better," Mediate said. "I want to be able to run around with my kids one day."
Notes — United will honor club legend Marco Etcheverry with a tribute match Oct. 20 for the team's final regular-season game vs. the Columbus Crew. ...
United forward Nicholas Addlery was named MLS player of the week for Week 13.