The Columbus Crew lost 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday in their final preseason game in Bradenton, Fla., and will return Thursday to Ohio with some injury issues.
Midfielders Eddie Gaven (knee), Danny O’Rourke (knee), Rich Balchan (sports hernia) and Dilly Duka (ankle) did not play in the 120-minute scrimmage, and goalkeeper William Hesmer’s sprained ankle will be examined by team doctors on Friday. Hesmer sat out all three Florida games.
“That’s potentially five starters we were missing,” head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday.
The most troubling ailments could be those of Balchan and Hesmer, followed by the continuing rehabbing of O’Rourke’s left knee. O'Rourke underwent surgery in November 2010 and missed most of last season.
Balchan also had surgery, for a sports hernia, last November and was not ready for the opening of camp in Columbus on Jan. 19. After consulting with the doctor who performed the surgery, he was able to practice about a week later and accompanied the team to Florida. However, he continued to experience pain.
“We shut him down,” Warzycha said. “He is going to see the doctor next week.”
Hesmer sprained his right ankle just prior to the start of camp and has been limited to ball handling and other drills but has not participated in full squad training. He had an MRI on Monday and is awaiting further evaluation in Columbus.
O’Rourke has been trying to push his level of workouts and even went 55 minutes against Malmö FF of Sweden on Feb. 8, but did not play Saturday against the US U-17 team or on Wednesday vs. Seattle.
“I want Danny to be on the field all the time,” Warzycha said. “I want Danny to be ready. As a coach, if he doesn’t have a pain in the knee, I am going to push him. Sometimes he feels tightness here and there.”
Gaven missed the Malmö match with a sprained ankle, but played against the U-17s. However on Monday, he collided with teammate Justin Meram during training and felt some pain in the back of his knee.
Meanwhile, Duka suffered a slight ankle sprain, but Warzycha left him out of the lineup as a precaution because he is headed to the US U-23 team on Sunday. There he'll be training for the match vs. their Mexican counterparts on Feb. 29 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
On the positive side, Warzycha said midfielder Tony Tchani is regaining fitness after offseason illnesses sapped him of his strength.
Not so good
Warzycha, for the most part, liked his first unit that went 75 minutes Wednesday and allowed a goal: goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum; defenders Sebastián Miranda, Chad Marshall, Carlos Mendes and trialist Kasali Casal; midfielders Ethan Finlay, Bernardo Anor (Shaun Francis, 62), Tchani and Milovan Mirosevic and forwards Olman Vargas and Emilio Rentería.
He was not pleased with the second group of goalkeeper Matt Lampson; defenders Aubrey Perry, Eric Gehrig, Josh Williams and Shaun Francis (Lance Laing, 103); midfielders Korey Veeder, Kirk Urso, Cole Grossman and Justin Meram (Darren Amoo, 109) and forwards Tommy Heinemann and Aaron Horton.
“They didn’t show up today,” he said. “They gave up a goal and it was a very poor performance.”