COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Columbus Crew offense that has been the subject of much scrutiny lately may have its first-choice striker back this weekend.
Jairo Arrieta, who has been out since straining his right hamstring against the New York Red Bulls on July 12, said he’s ready to go and hopes to return to the lineup for Saturday’s matchup against the LA Galaxy (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“I’m very happy,” Arrieta told MLSsoccer.com through a translator Thursday. “I’m excited, I’ve been working hard, and right now I’m happy to say I’m at 100 percent. So I’m ready to go.”
Arrieta was a second-half substitute last weekend, and while head coach Gregg Berhalter wouldn’t commit to him being back in the lineup, he didn’t rule it out.
“Jairo is ready to go,” he said. “He’s always an option to be starting.”
The injury kept Arrieta, who has three goals in 17 appearances on the season, out of action for four games.
“Little by little, I’m coming in and getting back in shape,” he said. “But I’m excited to break into the starting 11 again. I’m just waiting, thanking God, and when the time comes, I’m ready to go.”
Arrieta doesn’t have a history of many injuries and admitted that working through the hamstring hasn’t been easy.
“It was very difficult for me,” he said. “Not being injured [often], this is a difficult time for me. But with the help of everyone on the team and my family, it’s been easier. I’m looking forward to coming back stronger.”
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Berhalter said he’s looking forward to having the hard-working forward back.
“He has that tenacity, that work rate where he really makes it difficult for opposing center backs,” Berhalter said. “We certainly like that.”
In his stead, rookie Adam Bedell has gotten the majority of playing time in Columbus’ single-forward system. He hasn’t set the world on fire, but Berhalter wouldn’t admit that the club has missed Arrieta.
“I think Adam has offered something different,” he said. “Both of them have their pros and cons, and I think they’re just different kinds of players. I think either one can be effective.”
The Crew have also been missing winger Bernardo Anor, who has been dealing with a nagging hamstring strain. Berhalter said it’s unlikely that he will be involved Saturday.
“We’re just taking precaution,” he said. “We want [Anor] around in the later parts of the season. This week is just one week too early, in my opinion.”
Hector Jimenez is also working toward health after a rough tackle sprained his MCL. But Berhalter said he’s still not back in the fold yet.
“He might tell you he’s ready,” Berhalter laughed. “I don’t think he is, even if he says he is.”