SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes held their collective breath for a few hours on Thursday before X-rays on Ike Opara’s left foot allowed them to exhale freely again.
There was cause for alarm after Opara went down in the middle of training, clutching at his left foot — the same one which he broke last July, bringing his MLS rookie campaign to an end.
But X-rays on the foot, which had to be surgically repaired last year, came back negative for another fracture. The 22-year-old Wake Forest product, who was in line to start for the fourth time in five matches, is now being listed as “questionable” on the Quakes’ injury report for their match Saturday against Houston.
Opara suffered this latest knock while outrunning trialist Sercan Güvenisik to a long pass down the left sideline. Opara didn’t appear to be touched, but he dropped to the ground after winning the footrace and immediately grabbed at the arch of his left foot.
The second-year defender was able to make his way off the field on his own power, but he limped very gingerly to the Quakes’ locker room at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Injuries have been a nagging problem for Opara, whose 6-foot-2 frame and long legs have proven susceptible since arriving in San Jose as the No. 3 overall selection last year.
“He broke his foot last year, which happens to a lot of people, but he’s been pretty healthy this year,” coach Frank Yallop said. “I hope it’s not a bad one, but when he gets injuries, he seems to get bad ones. And that [would be] tough to take, because he was doing very well in the games he played. We’ll see how he is.”
If Opara is unable to go against Houston, it’s likely Bobby Burling will step into that spot instead of Brandon McDonald, in order to give the Quakes some height to battle Dynamo target man Cam Weaver.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes