OBETZ, Ohio – There is no good time to have an injury, but Crew midfielder Kevin Burns hopes a fractured rib suffered in the preseason is his lone one for the year.
Burns has started the past two matches in the central midfield after missing the season opener at D.C. United on March 19.
“This one wasn’t serious,” he said. “I knew straightaway I was going to miss a few weeks. It takes about four weeks to get back into training. It was about four-and-a-half weeks to my first game.”
[inline_node:317972]“It’s too bad,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said, “because he missed part of the preseason when we were getting fit and getting ready to play. When we formed the team, he wasn’t there.”
Burns has battled through a series of ailments ever since joining the Crew in 2008, beginning with an osteochondral (OcD) injury of the talus, one of the larger bones at the back part of the foot that forms the ankle joint.
He had some micro-fractures in the ankle removed and was on crutches for seven weeks. It was six months before he could start running, and he ended up missing all of 2008 – including the MLS Cup – as a result.
Burns didn’t make his league debut until May 27, 2009. He earned four starts among his nine appearances that year, but his development was stymied again in 2010, when he missed nearly two months because of sports hernia surgery in early May.
Despite missing key portions of the season, he still managed to play 17 games (eight starts) and scored the Crew’s lone goal – his first as a pro – in the US Open Cup loss to the Seattle Sounders.
“He’s a good passer and very good technically,” Warzycha said. “Week in and week out, we need his best performance.”
Burns’ injury in preseason prevented him from getting invaluable minutes with new holding midfielder Dejan Rusmir from Serbia. They didn’t have to wear name tags for their first match together against New York on March 26, but it wouldn’t have hurt.
“I don’t remember us playing together at all other than two days before the game,” Burns said.
Added Warzycha, “The connection was there. Maybe they made the same runs, marked the same guys a few times, but it was more about communication. There was good balance between the both of them.”
Burns had fewer problems welcoming another newcomer to the squad. Defender Julius James, signed in late March after being released by D.C. United, was a teammate of Burns at the University of Connecticut.
“Last offseason, we both went back to school to work out together at UConn,” Burns said. “He’s a really close friend and I’m excited he’s here.”
They had a reason to smile on Monday night when the Huskies won the NCAA men’s basketball title: rookie Ben Sippola from Butler, UConn’s opponent, will have to wash both their cars to pay off a bet.