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Crew defender Valenzuela’s early substitution was ‘more precautionary’

Valenzuela’s knee will be carefully watched after getting subbed out early

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC had a lot of reasons to be proud when the team flew back to Columbus from Seattle on Saturday night. A 1-1 draw against the Sounders, the defending MLS Cup champions, thanks to a well-worked goal and helped the team maintain an unbeaten record. But there is one concern for the Crew.

Their worry for the Black & Gold after the second game of the year comes from Milton Valenzuela, who only played 45 minutes after suffering a knock to his knee, the same knee he injured last preseason to miss all of 2019. Chris Cadden stepped in for the Argentine at left back for the entire second half. Valenzuela went down in the middle of the first half and trainers came out to the field and looked at the defender’s surgically repaired knee. Valenzuela was able to get up on his own after going down on the pitch and remained in the game for the rest of the first half.

Following the draw, Columbus head coach Caleb Porter was asked about Valenzuela’s status and his first response was “Don’t know yet.”

“[Milton’s] Knee was hurting,” Porter said. “It was more precautionary but I think he’ll be okay.”

Precaution seemed to also be part of the reason Porter left center back Vito Wormgoor out of the lineup with his slight knee and rib injury. Massive Report was told the center back, who made his Crew debut in the Week 1 win against New York City FC, was dealing with minor ailments and isn’t expected to miss much time. CenturyLink Field has a turf pitch, which is known to cause more potentially serious injuries than grass pitches.

Crew captain Jonathan Mensah was told by Valenzuela that he is okay. “I think he was holding the same leg so I wasn’t quite happy with that,” Mensa said after the game. “He assured the whole team that it is nothing serious.”

Initial signs point to Valenzuela being fine but re-aggravating a knee that had a torn ACL can be very serious. The young defender reminded fans last week just what the Black & Gold missed with him out of the lineup last year with an impressive return performance. After Valenzuela fell to the turf pitch in Seattle, precaution was the right step to take and shows Porter has confidence in Cadden and others to get the job done.

Valenzuela’s return to the starting lineup for 2020 has brought excitement for Crew fans. He is an instrumental part of transitioning into attack, defending wingers and makes Columbus a legitimate Eastern Conference contender in MLS.

The Crew defense hasn’t allowed a single goal in open-play for the first 180 minutes of the season. While it’s not likely to stay that way for much longer, it will be even more difficult if Wormgoor and Valenzuela, two key pieces to this defense are out with long-term injuries.

Massive Report will provide further updates on Valenzuela’s status as more information becomes available.