After a very long 10 months, the Columbus Crew will usher in the 2022 Major League Soccer season with a welcomed return to the pitch on Saturday when the Vancouver Whitecaps come to Lower.com Field. The team will not be the only one who fans are happy to see back, as midfielder Artur returns from an injury that cost him nearly all of the 2021 season.
Artur has suffered ongoing issues involving a hernia, which limited him to just six games for the Black & Gold last year, after playing at least 22 in his first four seasons in Columbus, with concerns about his ability to come back right away in 2022.
The midfielder is thrilled to be back on the pitch but admits the process was longer and he spent more time out than he expected while dealing with the mental toll sitting on the sideline for so long takes on athletes.
“Especially when the team is not doing well, I felt even worse because I wish I could help,” Artur said. “I was trying to help as much as I could outside the lines.”
A sports hernia surgery following the 2020 MLS Cup championship was supposed to have Artur ready to take on another busy MLS season in 2021. But unfortunately, the recovery did not go as planned and required a second surgery and extensive rehab to correct the issue.
This was especially tough considering the dominant 2020 season the 25 year old had, arguably his best year with the Crew. The Brazilian played in every single game for the Black & Gold and finished third in the league in tackles made. Rounding out the year with an MLS Cup championship was just the cherry on top for Artur.
Artur believes the long period of consistent playing, given the strange COVID-19 schedule, contributed to his injury and the extent of his recovery. But this season, for the first time in a long time, any limit in his play is simply due to fatigue and not pain. He says it will just take time to get his body readapted to the load that comes with playing in a full game and training every day over the course of a season.
“I feel very happy to be back,” Artur said. “I don’t feel like I’m 100 percent yet, but I know I’m not going to get it right away because it’s been 10 months since I last played and two surgeries. But I feel good.”
Despite speculation on what his status would be at this point just weeks ago, Artur is expected to start in Saturday's season-opening game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Crew midfield will welcome the experience he brings to the pitch alongside Darlington Nagbe, as well as the talent he possesses between the boxes.
Head coach Caleb Porter is more than excited to see Artur return to the pitch.
“His presence was sorely missed from a leadership standpoint, from a ball-winning standpoint, from a fitness and running and range and transition standpoint – everything,” said Porter, calling Artur the team’s engine.
“He just makes our team better when he’s in.”