Calgary Storm midfielder Nick Zuniga has the bruises to prove he\'s determined to make last season a memory.
\"I got cuts all over me from (cleats) and stuff like that,\" said the 20-year-old Calgarian.
Zuniga\'s current marks came courtesy of the Storm\'s last A-League contest, a 2-1 win over El Paso on Saturday.
Calgary will try to make it two in a row tonight at Foothills Park (6:30 p.m.) against the Seattle Sounders.
Zuniga had a great game against El Paso but things started to get out of hand late in the contest. He was red-carded and kicked out for the last 10 minutes after getting into a scuffle with an El Paso player.
No word has come down from the league yet whether Zuniga will be suspended or not.
His overall effort earned him A-League team of the week status from the contest.
It was early, though, when Zuniga suffered an injury to his hamstring and he just shrugged it off.
\"I was on a breakaway and I got pulled down,\" he said. \"There should have been a penalty shot but I got up and, after running around a bit after the first half, it started to loosen up.\"
Zuniga didn\'t get back on the pitch until last night but he\'s ready to play against Seattle -- a squad the Storm beat in the first meeting this season.
Against El Paso, Zuniga hooked up with his favourite target, striker Sean Fraser, with a beautiful pass through several players. He then sealed the win on a penalty kick later in the contest.
Through five games in the 2003 campaign, the Storm is halfway to its win total of last year\'s 4-21-3 season.
\"Compared with last season, everybody wants to come and train and get on the field,\" said Zuniga, a three-year Storm veteran.
\"Last year, we would find ourselves four down at half. Second half, we would just try not to get scored on. This season, we try to win in the second half. It\'s a much better feeling.\"
Still, the squad has gotten off to slow starts, including its game against Portland last week when the Timbers scored twice in the first seven minutes en route to a 4-1 win.
The difference now is the team has the confidence to not self-destruct after getting into a hole.
\"We\'ve watched the videos and it was just silly mistakes,\" said Storm head coach Tommy Wheeldon.
\"You\'re going to be hot and cold. But every second half I\'ve been pleased with; it\'s just the starts that are bad. That\'s inexperience.\"
The Storm face the Timbers at home on Sunday (3 p.m.), when Zuniga says his squad will make amends for the earlier defeat.