The unfortunate Columbus Crew news just keeps on coming. Less than 12 hours after Columbus’ 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls, the club announced another long-term injury. Midfielder Perry Kitchen will be out for 8-12 weeks after having successful back surgery on a herniated disc on Tuesday. The operation was performed by Dr. Milan Herceg in Upper Arlington, Ohio.
The injury will likely keep Kitchen out for the remainder of the regular season with the earliest return date set for Oct. 14 and the latest for Nov. 11. This is the third central midfielder for the Crew that has suffered an extended injury and needed surgery. Aidan Morris tore his ACL in April and has been out since and starting midfielder Artur recently had sports hernia surgery and is also out until mid-October.
Kitchen was signed by the Black & Gold last winter as an experienced midfielder that could slot in rotation for Darlington Nagbe or Artur. Kitchen played under current Crew head coach Caleb Porter at Akron when he was in college and the two were part of the Zips’ 2010 national championship team. In Columbus, Kitchen has played little, spending most of his time on the injury report.
The midfielder started for the Black & Gold in their MLS season opener against the Philadelphia Union on April 18 and played a strong 90 minutes in a scoreless draw at historic Crew Stadium. Kitchen didn’t return to the squad until June 27 against Austin FC as a substitute and made his next Columbus appearance on July 9 as a starter against FC Cincinnati.
Kitchen has started three games in total this season and made appearances in just five. The 29-year-old midfielder spent the previous three seasons at the LA Galaxy, where he played 60 games in a three-year period. He also has suited up for D.C. United, Randers FC and Heart of Midlothian FC in his career.
Central midfield depth is now rather thin for the Black & Gold with Kitchen now joining Morris and Artur on the extended injury list. In addition, as of this writing, offseason signing Marlon Hairston is dealing with a left thigh injury with his status still unknown. That leaves Nagbe, Liam Fraser and Isaiah Parente as the only natural central midfielders healthy on the roster.
Fraser has started the last two matches in midfield with Nagbe while the youngster Parente hasn’t played since July 17 as a substitute for six minutes against New York City FC. Rotation is something MLS clubs are forced to do with congested schedules and the Crew hasn’t had the luxury of having options for most of 2021 with injuries throughout the year.
The Black & Gold is currently sliding down the Eastern Conference table on a five-game losing streak, the longest for a defending MLS Cup champion since 2006. The Crew will be heavy underdogs in Saturday’s final rematch against the Seattle Sounders at Lower.com Field.