In a game of excitement for Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, there was one bad moment in the Hell is Real win against FC Cincinnati. It came early in the match and will affect the Crew for the remainder of the MLS is Back Tournament.
Center back Vito Wormgoor has been sent back home to Columbus and is out for the remainder of the tournament after suffering an ankle injury in Saturday’s victory. He posted a photo of himself on Instagram back in Ohio around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Head Coach Caleb Porter confirmed Wormgoor was sent home to “get his ankle evaluated by our team doctors.”
Looks like #Crew96 have sent defender Vito Wormgoor home from the #MLSisBack Tournament. He lefts Saturday’s game early with a leg injury and was in a substantial cast/wrap. pic.twitter.com/g8nozqB7Ma— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) July 14, 2020
Porter added, “it’s serious enough where we felt it was important for him to leave and get evaluated. As far as what that means and what’s going to happen we don’t know that for sure, but he’s definitely out for the rest of the tournament.”
Wormgoor suffered the injury less than 20 minutes into the game when he slid against the turf and caught his foot underneath his body during an attempted tackle against Cincinnati. He was helped off the pitch and Aboubacar Keita was quickly prepared and brought on.
This is his second injury of the young season for Wormgoor. The center back, who was acquired by the Crew in the offseason, sustained a minor rib injury in the season opener against New York City FC back in March that forced him out of the following game against the Seattle Sounders.
With Wormgoor back home with his family, the center back vacancy is up for grabs for Thursday’s game against the New York Red Bulls and beyond. Porter didn’t confirm a sure starter for the match but is confident with his defensive options.
“We have three experienced center backs and then Bouba (Aboubacar Keita), who is growing and has done a really nice job every game he’s played.”
Starter and captain Jonathan Mensah’s three partner options are Keita, Josh Williams and Axel Sjoberg. Williams has featured 162 times in MLS play, 130 of those coming for the Black & Gold. He is a versatile option, equally capable at center back and right back.
Sjoberg, who also came over in the offseason from the Colorado Rapids and is a former MLS Defender of the Year finalist. He was sent on loan to San Antonio FC before the season started but was brought with the team to the tournament.
“We are really glad we brought Axel here,” Porter said. “Pat Onstad, Tim Bezbatchenko and myself, prior to the tournament, asked, ‘Do we bring Axel back from loan?’ We felt it was the right decision to do because center backs historically speaking tend to take knocks.”
The options are there for Columbus with Keita having a good showing against Cincinnati on Saturday, Williams having the most experience with 10 years under his belt in MLS and Sjoberg previously playing a significant role for the Rapids for five seasons.
Wormgoor will be “certainly missed” as Porter said but “with his door kind of closing we have other doors opening.”