The 2019 Major League Soccer season is yet to begin, but multiple Columbus Crew SC players are already dealing with injuries during the preseason.
When the Crew opened preseason camp on Jan. 23, all players were healthy and accounted for. But on the second day of camp, defender Josh Williams was not on the field and both winger Niko Hansen and attacking midfielder Eduardo Sosa left during training. At the time, first-year head coach Caleb Porter said Williams was dealing with plantar fasciitis in his heel and expected him back the next day. Porter was unsure about Hansen’s injury given that it happened during a drill and he was yet to talk to the trainers while they believed Sosa — who remained down for some time in what appeared to be quite a bit of pain — was dealing with an ankle issue.
The Black & Gold have played two friendlies so far this preseason, a 0-0 draw against Japanese side Vissel Kobe and a 1-0 win over Club Tijuana. These three players failed to feature in either game.
Porter, whose team has been out in Chula Vista, California since Jan. 25, spoke with the local media members on Friday and provided updates on the injured players.
“They’re progressing,” Porter said of the trio. “Josh has a little bit of plantar fasciitis. He’s had this issue in the past. I think it got flared up in the first couple of days on the turf. It’s important, especially at this stage in the season, that we get these type of things calmed down because you can make a mountain out of a molehill really quickly if you’re not careful. As far as a timeline, I’m not sure but we’re hoping soon. He’s making progress and it’s just more of a waiting game to see if we can get that thing calmed down. But he’s doing fitness obviously on the bike.
“Sosa’s already doing stuff on the pitch, controlled. His was an ankle sprain. It was a mild one, so that’s good news, but he’s progressing really well. I don’t think he’ll play in this next game but he’ll definitely be getting minutes in Charleston.
“Niko had a little bit of scar tissue from the surgery he had in the offseason and it’s just a little sore. No re-injury. But he’s also been doing quite a bit on the pitch and been in on some of the drills, training drills as a neutral. Again, could be ready for minutes (against) LAFC but most likely Charleston.”
Porter also updated that midfielder Ricardo Clark missed the second preseason game after coming down with the flu.
While having those three players missing time during preseason is not ideal, Porter is happy with the health of his team overall. He has also been impressed with how his team is coming along physically through the first two-plus weeks of preseason.
“We’ve been pushing these guys,” Porter said. “In all the teams I’ve worked with, I can’t remember a team being physically, at this stage, as far along. So from that standpoint, we’re in really good shape. The only injuries we’ve had have been more knocks and ankle rolls. So we’ve had no muscle strains, which is a huge positive. And that shows how good our sports science staff is and it’s been a joy to work with them in terms of how they periodize things physically and build the group up. And they’re real methodical and professional in a comprehensive way.”
The Crew got a boost with captain Wil Trapp, goalkeeper Zack Steffen and forward Gyasi Zardes joining the team for preseason camp. The trio was with the United States Men’s National Team for January camp. All three played in both friendlies with the U.S. with Zardes and Steffen starting both games and Trapp starting the second contest.
On Monday (5 p.m. ET), the Black & Gold will play its final preseason game while on the West Coast when Columbus takes on fellow MLS side Los Angeles Football Club. The Black & Gold return to Central Ohio on Feb. 6 and will train in Columbus until the team departs for Charleston, South Carolina to participate in the 2019 Carolina Challenge Cup on Feb. 12.