He is one of the finest soccer players to come out of Kent, a talented force who realized his dreams of playing elite competition on the manicured pitches of the mighty Major League Soccer.
But today, Ely Allen is just trying to mend a battered body.
He eagerly awaits the day when he can regain his powerful feet and propel a spinning ball into the back of the net.
Allen, the former Kentridge High and University of Washington star, is recovering from serious injuries after being struck by a hit-and-run, wrong-way driver while jogging along East Hill’s Benson Highway more than a month ago.
Allen doesn’t recall what hit him from behind on that late morning of July 17. And it is just as well. The accident has left a gifted athlete in considerable pain as he slowly recovers at his mother’s home in Kent.
Doctors removed his spleen, an incision that left an eight-inch scar on his stomach. He still has substantial leg pain, with badly swollen knees and ankles. A road rash covers his body. He has his share of stomach problems.
Recurring headaches are the residual effects of the trauma, the impact of the blow.
“If I were a baseball pitcher, I’d be done. I can’t really move my arm,” said the 26-year-old Allen. “Physically, I don’t know what’s worse, my head or my arms.”
Out of a hospital bed, Allen visits Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for therapy and rehabilitation almost on a daily basis. It is a long road back for someone who just recently was released by the Minnesota Stars of the North American Soccer League.
“My activity is limited to three or four 10-minute walks a day, just like a grandma (walking) with my mother,” Allen said.
Police arrested a man in the hit-and-run. It turns out he is a former junior high school classmate of Allen’s. Charges are pending.
Allen, nevertheless, is trying to look ahead, even if that path presents some uncertainty.
He doesn’t know how long it will be before he resumes jogging. Frustrated with the slow recovery, Allen clings to hopes of playing again.
“I really haven’t set any goals just because I don’t want to get knocked down,” he said. ” … Right now, my goal is just to get back working out, get back in the weight room. From there? We’ll see what happens.”
Career of highs, lows
Allen has survived the ups and downs of a journeyman player’s career.
A McDonald’s All-American player in high school and a standout player at UW, Allen was selected the 21st overall pick by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2008 MLS draft. In only his second professional appearance, he scored a goal (assisted by David Beckham) against Sydney FC in the 2008 Pan-Pacific Championship.
Allen made his MLS debut in the Galaxy’s first match of the 2008 season, and scored his first MLS goal that year.
But injuries slowed Allen. The Galaxy waived him in 2009.
Following an unsuccessful trial with Seattle Sounders FC due to illness, and having been unable to secure a contract elsewhere, Allen joined the Seattle Wolves of the USL Premier Development League in 2009. He went on to score six goals and contribute six assists in the 16 games he played for them.
With D.C. United, Allen made a couple of appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League, but did not feature in league play, and was waived at the end of the season.
Allen played for two seasons with the NASL’s Stars before being released. He was talking to his agent about signing with another team when the accident happened.
“From there, everything stopped,” he said.
“I would love to keep playing. But, as far as my body goes, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to,” Allen said. “We’ll see.
“There’s definitely hope. I would love to get back playing again.”
If he’s unable to hit the pitch, Allen might turn to coaching – something he did between games at camps and clinics.
“I think the kids love me,” he said. “They all seem to come out, work hard and play every day.”
Something Allen, the player, has always done.