Danny O’Rourke has been down the road to recovery before. Probably a few too many times, in fact. So he was not about to set a timeframe for his return.
The Columbus Crew veteran midfielder/defender played 45 minutes in a reserve game Sunday against Philadelphia, but offered only a succinct assessment of his progress.
“I felt good after the game,” he said when asked several days later about his surgically repaired left knee.
He can be excused for not getting too far ahead of himself. He went under the knife in November and didn’t make an appearance until a US Open Cup match on June 28. That was followed by his season MLS debut July 2 for 21 minutes against FC Dallas.
It was decided after that game that he needed more conditioning and he disappeared from the lineup until the reserve game. His status for Saturday’s match at Seattle Sounders FC is still in question.
“I’m not sure,” coach Robert Warzycha said. “He needs to be 100 percent fit to step on the field.”
Whether he plays or not, O’Rourke is at least contributing again.
“I felt like it was really hard to lead when there a lot of young guys that I’ve never played with,” he said. “Now that I’m playing I feel a responsibility to lead by example.”
Pain and some gain: Midfielder Tony Tchani may undergo arthroscopic surgery on his bothersome right knee this week, according to Warzycha. Tchani has not played since being acquired July 15 from Toronto FC for Andy Iro and Leandre Griffit.
“The injury is a little bit more serious than we thought it would be,” Warzycha said.
He added that it’s possible Tchani will miss the rest of the season.
The good news is forward Jeff Cunningham (knee), midfielders Dejan Rusmir (calf) and Rich Balchan (adductor) and defender Shaun Francis (adductor) have returned to training. The first three might be available Saturday while Francis, who has played one game this season, needs more time. Midfielder Eddie Gaven (leg contusion) is also doubtful.
More pain, less gain: Defender Julius James says a mental lapse describes the sequence that led to his booking against Philadelphia and a suspension for the Seattle match because of an accumulation of cautions.
He was carded for re-entering the field without permission after being tended to following a shot that hit him in the groin area.
“If I get a yellow card, I at least want to hit somebody,” he said.
James also blames referee Mark Kadlecik for immediately signaling for the trainer when he went down, forcing James to go off the field momentarily for a Union restart. He would have preferred Kadlecik to check with him first so that James could tell him he was all right so he could remain in the game.
“Why would he call a trainer on the field?” James said. “He can’t help me with my [groin]. With all the excitement and everything, I think I took a few steps onto the field and this guy being the card-happy guy he was in the game, I just got a stupid card.”