Hejduk concerned with play, not wrist
Columbus Crew midfielder Frankie Hejduk has not had the best of luck in his sixth MLS season.
He missed the Crew's emphatic season-opening 3-0 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 2 because of a sprained right ankle. Then after making his season debut as a substitute the following week in a lopsided loss at New England, Hejduk broke a small bone in his wrist during the April 15 match against D.C. United. The California native has worn a cast on his right arm every game since.
"It doesn't affect my play at all," said Hejduk. "I have someone take a throw-in for me if it needs to be a long one."
The consistent rain in Columbus before Saturday's loss to the Kansas City Wizards added an additional twist to his ability - or inability - to take throw-ins.
"In the first half tonight, the ball was slippery so I couldn't take them," said Hejduk.
Unfortunately for the Crew, other problems have overshadowed Hejduk's broken wrist. After the three-goal outing against the Galaxy, Columbus has scored only three goals in the six subsequent matches. Moreover, the Ohio outfit is giving up nearly twice as many goals per game as during last season. Hejduk is more concerned about the latter fact.
"We have taken a lot of goals. It is no secret," said Hejduk. "We took a lot of goals in preseason. We have taken a lot of goals during the season."
A lot of the goals have come early. In the first three games in the Crew's current four-game losing streak, the Crew allowed four goals in the opening 15 minutes. However, in the loss to the Wizards, the Crew not only survived the first 15 minutes, but were creating all of the chances. The Crew's lapse was just delayed until the second 15-minute stanza as the Wizards opened a three-goal lead.
"It is happening over and over again in games. We are giving up lots of goals in a short amount of time," said Hejduk. "I don't know if we are putting our heads down thinking the games are over. If one team scores three goals in a half, the other team should be able to do it in the next. We are just not playing with confidence."
"They did the perfect job. They defended the 3-0 lead. They sat back, let us play with ball, and let us do what we wanted, but they defended the lead and didn't take any goals," said Hejduk. "We got a lot of chances when we threw people forward. We just couldn't put them away."
While the Crew must wait until Saturday to show the home fans a better outing, Hejduk believes the team will see an upswing in intensity in training this week.
"You can say you are going to do a lot of things, but it doesn't really matter until you take it to the field. It doesn't start on game day. It starts during the week of training," said Hejduk. "We need to train harder. We need to play in training like we do in the game. I don't think we have been doing that enough."
Since the injury, Hejduk has not missed a minute of action for the Crew. He says the cast, which will remain on for three more weeks, is not a major issue.
"It is the least of the problems. You aren't supposed to use your hands too much when you play anyways," said Hejduk.
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.