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Crew defender Jonathan Mensah’s ‘tight hamstring’ kept him out of Champions League clash

The Black & Gold defender missed Wednesday’s Champions League game but could be back soon.

Philadelphia Union v Columbus Crew SC Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: This story was updated after Massive Report’s initial report with Caleb Porter’s quotes.

Columbus Crew fans were shocked on Wednesday night to see defender and captain Jonathan Mensah absent from the starting 11 for the club’s 2-2 draw with Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League. Homegrown center back Aboubacar Keita got the nod for Mensah alongside Josh Williams while Lucas Zelarayan wore the captain’s armband for the first time in his Crew career.

Head coach Caleb Porter was expected to provide insight last night into Mensah following the game but instead spoke for six and a half mintues, venting about frustrating referee decisions, before departing his postgame press conference without taking questions.

Sources close to the team, however, told Massive Report that Mensah suffered a “minor” hamstring injury leading up the game. The center back is not expected to miss much time, those sources confirmed, and could be available as soon as Saturday when the Black & Gold take on CF Montreal in a return to Major League Soccer action.

Porter confirmed Massive Report’s report Thursday afternoon.

“He had a tight hamstring,” Porter said of the center back. “We scanned him. There is nothing there but it is tight. It’s a tight muscle and we thought it would be a risk if he played.”

Porter added they are hopeful he will be available for the Crew’s next match against CF Montreal on Saturday but should be healthy and available to play at the latest for the second leg in the Champions League against Monterrey on May 5 in Mexico.

Mensah was in attendance for Columbus’ draw and was seen walking around historic Crew Stadium without any noticeable limp, helping to confirm this injury isn’t severe. Massive Report also learned that Mensah’s wife just recently arrived in the United States after over a year of struggling to come over from Ghana.

Mensah started and captained all 28 of the Crew’s matches in its 2020 MLS Cup-winning season being one of a handful of players in the league to play every minute of last year. His stellar defensive play and consistency on the pitch earned him a spot on the MLS’ Best XI team in 2020 and he followed that up by lifting MLS Cup last December.

This is already the second time Mensah has missed a match for the Black & Gold out of just four this season. The Ghanaian sat for the second leg against Real Esteli with Porter knowing full well that match wasn’t as crucial as the MLS opener three days later against the Philadelphia Union. Last night’s absence was Mensah’s first due to an injury since the middle of the 2019 season.