OBETZ, Ohio – If the Columbus Crew want to return to the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, they will have to do it without the man who backstopped their four previous playoff runs.
The club announced Friday that it will likely be without William Hesmer – who helped the Crew to a championship in 2008 – and forward Tommy Heinemann for the rest of the season.
Hesmer, who started all but two matches in goal last season, underwent microfracture surgery on his right hip. He is expected to miss at least six months, putting his expected return near the end of the regular season on Oct. 28.
Heinemann, a starter in 12 of 28 appearances in 2011 – his first MLS season – had a microfracture procedure on his left knee and will need nine to 12 months of rehabilitation.
“They are huge losses,” coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “Will is an established goalie. He was a starter here for five years.
“For Tommy, it was the first preseason he went through without injury then he got hurt. At that time nobody knew it was that serious.”
Heinemann, who had three goals last season, said he was injured in a scrimmage against Michigan State on March 17, a week after he played the final five minutes of the season opener at Colorado.
He was pegged to be the No. 3 forward behind Emilio Renteria and Olman Vargas but Warzycha said his absence will be felt.
“I didn’t see Tommy as a backup forward for anybody,” he said. “He had a chance to play and started some games for us last year. Whoever we bring is going to earn a fair chance to be on the field.”
Meanwhile, Hesmer is the club career leader in games played (130), wins (59), shutouts (41) and saves (412) since earning the starting job from Andy Gruenebaum in 2007.
The attention now turns back to Gruenebaum, who's started all four of the Crew's matches this season and has six shutouts in 30 career MLS regular season games. He's also seen playing time in the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
“I sometimes feed off Will,” he said. “Now it’s on me to raise the level of the other guys and feed off me and keep the training at a high level.”
Hesmer had not played in a regular season game this year after spraining his right ankle in January. Warzycha said his ‘keeper noticed discomfort in his hip recently but still played 90 minutes in a reserve game at Toronto FC on March 31 before deciding to seek further evaluation.
Gruenebaum can relate to Hesmer’s injury, having undergone hip surgery in the fall of 2010.
“When you’re hitting the ground that many times in your life you’re not going to have the best of hips. Let’s be for real,” he said.
Rookie Matt Lampson will back up Gruenebaum for Saturday's game at Philadelphia (3:30 pm ET, NBCSN) and former Chicago Supplemental Draft pick Carl Woszczynski will be on the bench for Saturday’s reserve match at Philadelphia, although Warzycha said the search is underway for a full time third goalie.
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