Dilly Duka was hoping to showcase himself in his return not only to the Crew starting lineup but his native state when he played New York at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on June 4.
The second-year midfielder had sat the previous match with a left ankle sprain and had come off the bench a week earlier than that, but an opportunity for a starting nod arose when midfielder Robbie Rogers joined the US national team for the Gold Cup.
Duka made his 11th appearance and seventh start of the season vs. the Red Bulls, but his dreams of having a big match were literally chopped down in the 10th minute.
“I planted [my foot],” he said. “The center back slid and planted the bottom of his foot on my upper calf and buckled it.”
Although Duka suffered what later was diagnosed as a severe right ankle sprain, he persevered until the 74th minute before being replaced.
“I played through it because I had so many family and friends at the game,” he said. “Plus, we were a goal down and I didn’t want to come out a goal down, but I eventually did. About 10 minutes after [the injury], I couldn’t really run but I was trying as hard as I can. I definitely made it worse after the fact.”
Duka will be out another four to six weeks and joins a list of young players who missed opportunities to state a case for themselves because of injuries.
Rookie midfielder Bernardo Anor had several good reserve matches and was in the mix to dress for the Real Salt Lake match on June 8 because of injuries to a half dozen midfielders and forwards, but he incurred a left ankle sprain in training.
He was unavailable for that match as well as last Sunday’s loss to Chicago, and is still seeking his first league game.
“I was getting ready, I was going to my top performance but unfortunately I got hurt,” Anor said. “It’s sad I couldn’t be part of the team the past two or three games. Of course, I want to be on the field. I have to accept it and go from there.”
Anor is training again and may make the trip to Houston for Saturday’s match (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). While coach Robert Warzycha would prefer to see him gain more experience in reserve games, the coach might not have a choice but to play Anor because of limited roster options.
“Sometimes you have to throw the guy in deep water and see what happens,” Warzycha said.
Tommy Heinemann definitely will go to Texas if the left hamstring that caused him to miss the past two games doesn’t flare up.
“It’s the pitfall of the game,” the striker said. “It’s a downer. I’ve battled a couple of things this year to cause me to miss a week here, a week there. Hopefully I can get over the hump and get healthy and stay fit.”
Heinemann could make his fourth start with Jeff Cunningham (left hamstring strain) doubtful and Emilio Rentería (left quad strain) out.