Crew may miss Hejduk vs. Wizards
The past two months have put the Columbus Crew and midfielder Frankie Hejduk in a strange position for a non-World Cup year. Despite four home matches and an exhibition against English Premier League club Fulham FC, Hejduk went nearly two months without appearing for the Crew in front of the home fans at Crew Stadium.
The loss of Hejduk certainly detracts from the quality of the squad. And the club may be without his services Friday night against Kansas City.
Due to the Gold Cup, Hejduk missed six MLS matches beginning on June 29 and ending July 23. Hejduk returned to Columbus following the U.S. victory in the final against Panama, but he was there to play against Fulham FC in the All-Star Game -- not to rejoin the Crew.
"Frankie brings a lot of passion and experience to the game. Whenever he is not around, we are definitely missing that," said Kyle Martino. "When he is gone, it is tough boots to fill because he brings such intensity to the game."
Added interim coach Robert Warzycha. "Frankie is a true professional and brings a lot to the team."
After the All-Star Game, Hejduk started in a U.S. Open Cup loss to FC Dallas in which he was ejected for a retaliatory foul on Arturo Alvarez. Although the expulsion did not mandate a suspension from league play, Warzycha did not start him and then started him on his unfavored left side in the next two matches, respectively, which were both losses on the road.
Hejduk came back to go the full 90 on the right side of the pitch in last weekend's victory over FC Dallas, but left for Spain following the match. He also went the full time on Tuesday with the MLS Select Team that lost 5-0 to Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Spain.
Although he didn't miss a match, it is unclear if Hejduk will get the nod on Friday against Kansas City at Crew Stadium.
"By playing Saturday, going to Madrid and playing [Tuesday], I don't know if he'll be ready for Friday," said Warzycha.
If Hejduk is unable to go, it will provide a chance to one of the reserves to again fill the void.
"We have the players that can step up and play," said Warzycha. "If he is not on the field, someone else will and do that best that he can."
"We just need to makes sure that when Frankie is gone, we need the person that fills his spot to bring the same intensity," said Martino.
Kansas City is in a similar situation. The Wizards played the Minnesota Thunder on Wednesday night in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal, losing 3-1 without defenders Jose Burciaga, Jr. and Jimmy Conrad. Both played against Real Madrid.
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.