O'Rourke's return a positive step

Columbus defender closer to full fitness after surgery, lengthy layoff

Danny O'Rourke

Photo Credit: 
Skyler Schmitt

Maybe Divine Intervention had as much to with Crew defender Danny
O’Rourke’s sudden exit from Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt US Open match as
referee Sorin Stoica did.

O’Rourke saw action for the first time since left knee surgery in
November against the Richmond Kickers in the teams’ quarterfinal
matchup, but as sometimes has been the case since coming to MLS in 2005,
his emotions got the best of him. Chapin issued a red card in the 67th
minute for retaliatory actions against Richmond’s Ryan Heins, and the
Kickers went on to earn a 2-1 win.

“Obviously, you don’t want to get a red card for your team,” O’Rourke
said. “You take it as a blessing. Maybe it was God’s way of getting me
off the field early.”

That O’Rourke played at all was a blessing for him and the Crew.
Although he wasn’t sure how long he would last in his first game action
in eight months, making it through the first half was a positive step.

“I feel good,” O'Rourke said afterward. “Not having played in over nine
months, there’s a general fatigue and tightness. Tuesday was the first
step on the next part of my journey. It’s all about the recovery and
being able to do that week after week.

“I knew I was going to be excited, but I also know it’s a learning
curve for me, my body getting back out there,” he added. “I tried to be
real even keel at the beginning and gradually get back into the game. It
wasn’t bad.”

Assistant coach Mike Lapper came back from several serious knee
injuries in his Crew career as well and understands two things O’Rourke
needs to be competitive again.

“Game speed,” Lapper said, “and getting in those first couple of tackles.”

O’Rourke, however, won’t be activated from the injured reserve list for
matches Saturday at FC Dallas or July 6 at Vancouver, but there’s a
possibility he could be eligible July 16 vs. San Jose.

“A few more practices and a few more tackles,” head coach Robert Warzycha said, “then I think he’ll be ready.”