OBETZ, Ohio – The Columbus Crew just can't catch a break on the injury front. The revolving door to the trainer's room kept on spinning Tuesday, with Aaron Schoenfeld making his return to practice, only for Cole Grossman pick up a knock in the same session.
Grossman, the second-year midfielder who made his first career start May 23 at Seattle, took a knock to his right ankle early in the session and headed to the sideline for ice treatment. He was able to walk with a slight limp after training and assistant coach Mike Lapper – filling in for Robert Warzycha while he is in Poland for Euro 2012 – said his status for Wednesday's training is unknown.
Schoenfeld, meanwhile, was full go in scrimmage for the first time since a plantar fascia rupture in his right foot during the match against Vancouver on April 28.
“I’ve been anticipating this for a while,” he said.
The rookie forward from East Tennessee State was an early-season surprise after being waived in the preseason by the expansion Montreal Impact.
He earned starts in two of his six appearances on the season, totaling 194 minutes and adding an assist vs. Houston on April 21.
“He’s a big target forward,” Lapper. “He did well before his injury. In certain games and certain matchups he’d be very valuable for us, so it’s great to see him back out here.”
Schoenfeld’s injury probably cost him even more playing time than originally expected, as forward Olman Vargas was injured in the same match as him. Vargas missed three games and Schoenfeld five in a run which saw the Crew go 3-0-2 in league play.
“It’s difficult not being out there but when you see the team winning and getting results it doesn’t bother me at all,” Schoenfeld said. “I’d much rather have the team win than have individual glory. When the team’s winning, everything is good.”
Schoenfeld said staying sharp has been the biggest challenge for his return.
“You can run all day and never have the soccer fitness,” he said. “It’s always about getting back out there and playing the games.”
Trio out for extended period
A pair of Columbus players have been kept on the sideline by sports hernia-related surgies. Midfielder Rich Balchan – who has yet to see the field this season – recently underwent his third sports hernia surgery, according to Lapper. The first ocurred last year – his rookie season – and the second came during preseason.
Rookie midfielder Kirk Urso is also expected to have a sports hernia-related surgery this week. He has been out of action for a month.
Also, midfielder Dilly Duka hurt his hamstring last week for the second time this season and is out indefinitely, according to Lapper.
Despite the trifecta of extended absences, though, the Crew could be welcoming up to four faces back to the training field in the next couple days. Perhaps the hardest-hitting injury absence, team captain Chad Marshall, has been free from concussion symptons for a week and could be returning to practice soon.
Chris Birchall, who got married in England Saturday, will return to training Wednesday, while Costa Rican duo Olman Vargas and Jairo Arrieta will return from their native country on Thursday. Vargas is with the Costa Rica national team during World Cup qualifying and new signing Arrieta is moving his family to Columbus.