There’s a good reason why Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara was able to steal the ball from Bernardo Añor near midfield, race by him and feed Teal Bunbury for the insurance goal in the 82nd minute of a 2-0 victory this past Saturday:
The Columbus defender was playing on one good leg.
The Crew announced Tuesday that Añor suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the game and has become their third player to suffer a season-ending injury.
He will have surgery later this month followed by eight to 10 months of rehabilitation.
“You know it can happen when you play,” Añor told MLSsoccer.com. “Unfortunately, it happened to me. I’m getting mentally strong so I can come back even stronger. I am thinking positive.”
Añor was hurt in the 63rd minute when he was leg-whipped by Kamara, a former Crew player, near the SKC bench but he managed to finish the match.
“Maybe adrenaline got me going a little bit longer and got me through,” Añor said.
He felt fine leaving Crew Stadium after the match but the knee locked up on Sunday.
“He played half an hour on that leg,” Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha said. “He’s a very tough kid.”
Añor felt the challenge by Kamara was “a little bit unnecessary in the way he went for the ball. It was a tackle from behind. He didn’t have a good look at the ball. It’s something that happened. I’m sure it wasn’t malicious.”
Warzycha didn’t think so either but he was upset that the Sporting forward wiggled his finger in the fallen player’s direction.
“It was an unfortunate play,” Warzycha said. “You have a 50-50 [ball]. I don’t think Kei Kamara wants to hurt him but I have a problem with one thing – the player standing over him saying, ‘You’re faking something.’
“There’s no place for this,” he added. “If you make 50-50 challenge, fine, then go with it. If he would be a good sportsman he would probably help him get up.”
The 24-year-old Añor, a Venezuelan native, was drafted as a midfielder out of the University of South Florida in 2011 but started the conversion to left back during this year’s preseason. He made his first career start there last Saturday.
“I told him after the game I felt like he belonged in that position because he is more active,” Warzycha said. “He’s a natural at that spot.”
Añor’s injury could pave the way for Nemanja Vukovic to return to the starting lineup. He had started 10 of the previous 11 games with Shaun Francis starting the other. Francis was released last month to open an international roster spot in case the Crew sign a Designated Player.
“I think Vukovic can do the job,” Warzycha said. “Just because he was on the bench the last game it doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. Against Kamara, I thought Bernardo would be better.”
Others under consideration for the position include Eric Gehrig, Carlos Mendes, Sebastián Miranda and Josh Williams.
Besides Añor, goalkeeper William Hesmer and forward Tommy Heinemann are out for the year.