Sporting set to lose captain Arnaud for up to six weeks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just as Omar Bravo worked his way close to full strength, Sporting Kansas City lost another key veteran to a sports hernia injury.

Captain Davy Arnaud will undergo the procedure next Wednesday in Los Angeles, ruling him out for a busy month of July for Kansas City at the very least. Recovery is estimated at four to six weeks.

Arnaud played 21 minutes as a substitute against Vancouver on Saturday, but he watched Kansas City’s 3-0 US Open Cup victory against Chicago Fire Premier from a luxury suite after finally succumbing to an injury that has bothered him for most of the season.

“It’s something I first felt in the preseason,” Arnaud said. “Just something that I had been dealing with, but this past week or two it’s gotten to the point where I can’t really function.”

He said he recently lost most of his ability to sprint and push off and was also having a hard time simply kicking the ball. Depending on Arnaud’s rate of recovery and ability to regain match fitness over a short period of time, he could miss as many as 12 games (10 at Livestrong Sporting Park) while he works back into the fold.

Bravo underwent the same procedure on April 12 and made his first appearance following surgery against the Seattle Sounders on May 21, playing 76 minutes 39 days after going under the knife. Although Bravo took almost exactly six weeks to reach a point where he could contribute in a competitive match, Arnaud said he hopes his history as a rapid healer will help him get back into the squad soon rather than later.

“I was looking forward to being back and getting a bunch of games at home, which I’m now going to miss out on," Arnaud said. "It’s not easy.”

Should he take the full six weeks to recover, Arnaud would likely return on Aug. 17 against the Portland Timbers at Livestrong Sporting Park or on Aug. 21 against D.C. United at home.

And even though manager Peter Vermes has a deep pool of midfield players with which to work, Sporting will certainly miss their emotional leader and most experienced player. Arnaud had started 14 of 15 games so far this season and along with C.J. Sapong was the only player to make an appearance in every one of Kansas City’s league matches.            

“It’s part of the way the ball bounces sometimes, so we’ll deal with it as we go,” Vermes said. “Not only do we lose the captain but also we lose a guy that I know will come and give it every game.”

Roger Espinoza took Arnaud’s spot against the Whitecaps last weekend, playing alongside Júlio César and Graham Zusi in the midfield after impressing in that position with Honduras in the Gold Cup. Of those three, only Zusi has been a stalwart in the middle of the park over the past month as Kansas City pieced together a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

In addition to that trio, Vermes will also be able to pick from Luke Sassano, Birahim Diop, Stéphane Auvray and Milos Stojcev to fill the gap left by Arnaud. And even though he is frustrated to watch Sporting attempt to continue dragging themselves up the table without him, Arnaud said he has faith that his teammates will keep the ball rolling in his absence.

“We’re on a good run right now,” he said. “We have to keep it going. This is what you have a squad of guys for. Different guys are going to be called upon in different times. That’s part of the game, and part of what we do.”