Even though Milovan Mirosevic hasn’t produced the numbers expected of his first season in MLS, the Columbus Crew are anxious to get the injured midfielder playing again.
That wish could be realized Saturday against Real Salt Lake (8 pm ET, watch LIVE online) after the Chilean said he experienced no problems from an adductor strain following Thursday’s practice.
“I’m better. We’ll see how I am tomorrow,” he said. “I feel ready to play. I haven’t been training all week so I can’t know certainly I am 100 percent back but the things I have been doing tell me that I’m OK.”
Head coach Robert Warzycha hasn’t committed to starting Mirosevic, but after he attributed some of the Crew’s offensive struggles in a 2-1 loss at Chicago last week to the absence of his veteran midfield general, he’s hoping Friday’s practice brings good news.
Mirosevic missed games against Seattle and Chicago before the two-week international break but returned for the 0-0 draw at New England on June 16. He experienced pain in an area close to the first injury in the days following the Revolution match and was held out of the loss to Chicago.
“It’s real disappointing to play one game and then stop again,” he said. “I think I am fit enough now.”
His lone points are a goal in the second game of the season but technical director Brian Bliss said Mirosevic is still an important cog.
“The way he carries himself on the field and what he gets done that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is pretty valuable,” he said. “He’s doing what we thought he would do. He’s just not picking up the assist here or the goal here. Yeah, we’re disappointed and he would be disappointed in his statistical numbers, but his play overall has been OK.”
With the release Wednesday of backup left back Shaun Francis, it appears the role of supporting Nemanja Vukovic could be filled by committee.
Warzycha mentioned centerback Josh Williams and defensive midfielder Danny O’Rourke, who can play anywhere in the back, as possibilities. Carlos Mendes and Rich Balchan could be considered when they are healthy.
Williams was signed in 2010 as a reserve left back but filled in nicely while central defender Chad Marshall was out with a concussion.
“A lot of guys who are confident on the ball like Josh can play a lot of positions and defensively you can count on him at several different spots,” said goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
The most intriguing possibility for left back is second-year midfielder Bernardo Añor. He was tested there in the preseason before Vukovic was signed and practiced at the spot on Thursday.
“He’s got all the tools to be a good left back,” Marshall said of the Venezuelan. “He’s physical. He’s got good speed and he’s good on the ball.”