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Crew’s Kevin Molino tears ACL, will miss remainder of 2021 season

The first-year Black & Gold midfield goes down.

SOCCER: JUL 24 MLS - Columbus Crew SC at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Columbus Crew’s major offseason signing Kevin Molino’s 2021 season is over. The Crew announced on Thursday morning that Molino, 31, suffered a torn ACL and is done for the remainder of 2021. The midfielder will undergo surgery on his right knee and is expected to be out nine to 12 months.

Molino’s injury is believed to have occurred during training on Tuesday when he left the field with a club trainer. This is the latest in a long string of injuries for the defending MLS Cup champions this year. The Black & Gold have been without a number of key players for large chunks of the season, including forward Gyasi Zardes, midfielder Artur, left back Milton Valenzuela and center backs Josh Williams and Vito Wormgoor. Molino himself missed the first two-plus months of the season dealing with a hamstring injury that caused him issues in the preseason.

Molino was an MLS free agent signing by Columbus in January as a way — along with Bradley Wright-Phillips — to boost the attack of the Crew coming off the team’s second MLS Cup title win. Molino was fresh off a productive season for Minnesota United in which he scored nine goals in 18 games. He also scored four goals in the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs for the Loons on the team’s run to the Western Conference Final, where they eventually fell 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders.

Yet the hamstring issue, which flared up in preseason, hampered Molino’s start to the year with his new club, holding his debut until mid-June, a substitute appearance in a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire.

After his first three games with Columbus, Molino departed the team when he was called up to the Trinidad and Tobago National Team for the Gold Cup in July. He returned to his club on July 21 in a substitute appearance against Nashville SC. Molino made his first start for the Crew in the 1-0 win against Atlanta United on the road on July 24.

In total, Molino made 11 appearances, seven starts, for the Black & Gold in his debut season, scoring one goal on seven shots.

Molino will now begin his recovery process, which will likely take him well into the 2022 season. This is the third time in his 13-year professional career Molino has suffered a torn ACL. The first such injury occurred while playing with for Orlando City SC in May of 2015, which forced him to miss the remainder of that year. He again tore his ACL during the second game of Minnesota’s 2018 season.

The Crew, losers of six consecutive games, will now have to dig out of the team’s recent slump without one of its key attacking pieces. While Molino had not yet found his form his United days, the player had just recently begun to settle into the Black & Gold system, playing in each of the last eight matches for the Black & Gold.

Columbus welcomes FC Cincinnati to Field on Friday for the first Hell is Real Derby in the new stadium.