A rough byproduct of the Columbus Crew’s 2-1 victory against Atlanta United on Saturday is the state of some players at the final whistle. After three players suffered injuries, one requiring an immediate substitution, head coach Caleb Porter updated their status on Wednesday. This came following Porter’s clarification on midfielder Lucas Zelarayan’s injury timetable.
Fullback Pedro Santos has a grade 2 hamstring strain and midfielder Artur has a hairline fracture. Both are expected to miss four to five weeks. Winger Yaw Yeboah is also on a similar timeline, although Porter did not specify the Ghanian’s injury.
Santos was the first to come up lame On an Atlanta attack in the 20th minute, Santos rushed back on defense to stop a cross from coming into the Black & Gold penalty area. The Portuguese fullback stretched to get between the ball and its intended target and went to the ground moments later, holding his right hamstring.
Team trainers entered the field as Santos stayed on the artificial turf of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and left the field. Santos tried returning to the match but was in evident pain and not able to run. In the 24th minute, he was replaced by rookie defender Will Sands. This came after Santos already made an impact in the match, sending in a corner kick to defender Jonathan Mensah for a first-minute goal.
“I think he’s another one that we’re hoping to have back after the break,” said Porter of Santos, who he also mentioned in naturally a quick healer. “It might be tight for that first game but we don’t expect to lose him for too many games.”
With less than 10 minutes left in the second half, Artur sustained an injury on a tackle. Atlanta substitute forward Dom Dwyer had possession just outside of the home team’s penalty ara. Dwyer took the shot and as the striker sent his leg back to swing, Artur moved in for a tackle and toe poked the ball away. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, Dwyer was already in the forward motion of his kick and sent a full-speed boot into the back of the Brazilian’s leg, sending both to the turf.
Like Santos, Artur left the field but returned. Columbus had no more available substitution windows and therefore couldn’t replace the midfielder who couldn’t effectively run. Artur continued to play for the remaining minutes of the match, instead of giving Atlanta a man advantage. It was a gutsy moment for the midfielder, who kept going until the final whistle.
“I know when everyone hears hairline, they get worried,” said Porter. “It was a very hard kick. Fortunately, it was on the back part of his leg, where there’s a lot of meat to protect him. Probably would have been a break on any other part of the leg.”
In the middle of the first half, Yeboah appeared to suffer a severe ankle injury as he rolled the ankle while attempting to make a play. He went to the ground on more than one occasion, but unlike his two teammates, Yeboah remained in the game before he was eventually substituted in the 53rd minute.
Porter is hopeful that all three players return soon after the international break. The Crew doesn’t play another MLS regular season match until June 18 when expansion side Charlotte FC travels to Lower.com Field.