Columbus Crew fans received unfortunate news on Saturday morning. The club announced that young midfielder Aidan Morris will be out for 9-12 months with a severe Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in his left knee. He will undergo ACL reconstruction and sit out the 2021 season to recover.
Morris fell hard to the pitch in pain from a non-contact play in Thursday night’s win against Real Esteli in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16. He left the match in just the ninth minute and was seen watching in a full leg brace for the duration of the second half.
Immediately after the 1-0 win on Thursday night for Columbus, head coach Caleb Porter expressed his suspicion of Morris’ injury saying at first “It looks pretty bad.”
“Forget our season, forget all of the selfish reasons you can be upset about it,” Porter said postgame. “I’m just sad for him because he was playing well and he’s really starting to blossom right underneath our eyes, every game getting better, every training getting better. He’s a young kid.”
The 19 year old from Florida was coming off a good first season in black and gold in his very first year as a professional soccer player. The former Crew academy product saw game time in central midfield with two starts and eight substitute appearances for Porter’s squad. He impressed in his regular season performances with his tenacity to win 50-50 balls, pass accurately and had good positioning in the center of the park.
Columbus and MLS fans alike really got to know Morris after making a historic start in the 2020 MLS Cup Final against the Seattle Sounders. Morris stepped into the starting 11 after starter Darlington Nagbe was ruled out. The nod in the lineup from Porter made Morris the youngest starter in MLS Cup Final history and his stellar performance against MLS Best XI attackers like Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris had Crew fans fawning over his potential and great play. He also provided an assist in the 3-0 victory.
Morris impressed again as he was selected to start the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League match in Managua, Nicaragua against Real Esteli. He provided an assist and played with fearlessness once again, not to mention a cheeky dribble move in the first half.
The young midfielder will now take the time in 2021 to recover from his injury in hopes he will return for the start of the 2022 MLS season.
Columbus’ depth is being tested early this season with four players ruled “out” and three ruled “questionable” for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Union. Along with Morris, new signing Kevin Molino is sidelined for six to eight weeks as he recovers from a left hamstring issue. Two other new signings, Marlon Hairston and Evan Bush, are also currently ruled out. On the questionable list are Vito Wormgoor, Nagbe and Derrick Etienne Jr.
The central midfield role is deep for the Black & Gold with new signings Perry Kitchen and Isaiah Parente being the primary backups for Artur and Nagbe. Kitchen and Parente got their first Crew starts on Thursday in the Champions League win Esteli.
Columbus returns to the pitch on Sunday to open the MLS season against Supporters’ Shield holders the Philadelphia Union at 5:30 p.m. ET from historic Crew Stadium.