OBETZ, Ohio – Whatever position Bernardo Añor ends up manning for the Columbus Crew next season is secondary to the fact he will be playing at all. The youngster is still recovering from his second serious knee injury, and all other variables pale in comparison to that.
Añor was halfway through his second MLS season, settling in at his new left back position vs. Sporting Kansas City on July 14, when he was tackled by Kei Kamara and suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It required surgery, months of rehab and a temporary hold on his conversion from attacking midfielder.
"My goal is to be back for the preseason [in January]," he told MLSsoccer.com recently. "Obviously, I won't be 100 percent at the start but there are things hopefully I can do."
Añor is taking a conservative approach to his recovery because first of all, with the season completed, there is no reason to rush.
More importantly, this is not his first time having to go through rehabilitation, having suffered an ACL tear his sophomore year of college in 2008.
"Since it's my second time I want to take it pretty slow and get it strong," Añor said. "I know what it takes. I'm supposed to be jogging right now or next week and we postponed it for two weeks so I can know for sure the knee is strong."
After both injuries Añor was the recipient of tissue from a donor in order to make the necessary repairs. That's why he is happy to be involved in advocating tissue and organ donations and last month he received the Donate Life Champion Award for his work and supporting Crew partner Lifeline of Ohio.
"I am always offering to do whatever they need me to do," he said. "It's something that's part of my life and I appreciate it."
The issue is even more personal because of the sudden death of Crew rookie midfielder Kirk Urso on Aug. 5 due to a heart defect. Urso's family donated his organs so others could benefit.
"He contributed in his way," Añor said barely above a whisper. "We're thankful he did that."
The Venezuelan would prefer to talk about his role with the team next season but he is unsure what that will be. Meanwhile, Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com that he thinks Añor can make the transition to left back if needed.
"You have players in this league who started a position in college and played a completely different position in the pros," Warzycha said. "Look at Chris Albright. He started as a forward and he was a successful forward, then he was a right back for LA and very successful. It's a good approach for some guys. Bernardo has all the qualities. He has a very good left foot and an engine that will allow him to do that.
"Are we going groom him over there and give him a little more time? Absolutely."