The worst fears were realized for Colombian soccer supporters: national team forward and captain Radamel Falcao has a torn left ACL.
Falcao suffered the injury while playing for AS Monaco during a Wednesday French Cup match against fourth-division team Chasselay. Defender Soner Ertek, who has since received death threats, made the lunging tackle for the ball in the box and collided into Falcao's planted left leg. No penalty was called on the play and Falcao was stretchered off just before halftime.
The 27-year-old striker was later transported to Portugal to see specialist José Carlos Noronha, who confirmed the diagnosis to EFE news agency on Thursday.
ACL tears typically require a six-month recovery period, meaning the World Cup could lose one of its biggest stars. The tournament kicks off on June 12 and Colombia face Greece, Japan and the Ivory Coast in Group C.
Falcao's injury could open the door for Seattle Sounders on-loan forward Fredy Montero, who has lit up the Portuguese league with a league-leading 13 goals for Sporting CP, who find themselves in second place in the Portugal's Liga ZON Sagres standings. Seattle brass confirmed the existence of a loan clause, whereby Sporting can secure Montero on a permanent basis.
Montero is tied at the top of Portugal's Golden Boot race with compatriot Jackson Martínez of Porto, who will also be looked upon to pick up the slack for Colombia in Falcao's absence.
Other options for national team manager José Pekerman include Serie A strikers Víctor Ibarbo (Cagliari) and Luis Muriel (Udinese), Bundesliga leading scorer Adrián Ramos (Hertha Berlin), Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca and River Plate's Teófilo Gutiérrez.
Pekerman will reportedly be traveling to Portugal to scout Montero in a match to be played on February 2.