It’s not the news that Columbus Crew SC fans wanted to hear just weeks before the 2019 season kicks off but Defender Milton Valenzuela is expected to miss considerable time after undergoing successful knee surgery on Thursday afternoon.
The Columbus Dispatch initially reported the 20 year old suffered a severe injury this past weekend in training. On Feb. 6, sources told Massive Report that the knee injury was in fact a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). The surgery was performed in Columbus under the watchful eye of Doctor Scott Van Steyn who works at Orthopedic One, the practice of new Crew owner, and former team doctor, Pete Edwards.
Valenzuela arrived in Columbus on loan from Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina. During his first season with the Black & Gold, Valenzuela demonstrated his ability both as a defender and an attacker. Valenzuela made 30 appearances in 2018, collecting six assists, and scoring his first professional goal against D.C. United on March 24.
His terrific run of form during his first season garnered the attention of the Crew front office and the Black and Gold purchased Valenzuela on a permanent transfer on Dec. 21.
When an injury such as this to a key contributor could prove catastrophic to a club, defensive depth hasn’t been an issue for Columbus in recent years. To fill the void left by Valenzuela, the Crew acquired left back Waylon Francis on Wednesday from the Seattle Sounders for $50,000 in General Allocation Money.
Francis is no stranger to the Crew. The defender played in Central Ohio for four seasons, appearing in 83 matches and recording 18 assists. In his only season in Seattle, the defender only featured 11 times and recorded one assist. Like the franchise he is returning to, the injury to Valenzuela could allow Francis to experience a rebirth of his own.
The Black & gold also have versatile veteran Hector Jimenez on the roster. Jimenez played at both outside back positions, as well as across the midfield, under former head coach Gregg Berhalter and lined up at left back under new head coach Caleb Porter in the preseason friendlies.
While no club ever wants to lose a player for an extended period of time, it is good new for fans that Valenzuela’s surgery went well and he can focus on healing and beginning his rehab process. In the meantime, the Crew have the depth to soldier on without the young left back but will eagerly await his return in 2020.