The Columbus Crew's Tony Tchani (right) battles Colorado's Jeff Larentowicz on Thursday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
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Tchani's debut gives Crew a brief glimpse into 2012

The Crew and their fans got a glimpse of the team’s center midfielder of the future, but unfortunately it was an all-too brief.

Tony Tchani made his Crew debut three-and-a-half months after being acquired from Toronto FC in the Crew’s 1-0 loss at Colorado in a wild card knockout match in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday.

“It’s exciting for me, personally," Tchani said. "But after the game, my mind wasn’t really thinking about that."

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When the Crew dealt defender Andy Iro and midfielder Leandre Griffit to Toronto FC on July 15, they envisioned Tchani teaming up in the middle with Emmanuel Ekpo. However, reoccurring left knee problems forced Tchani to undergo surgery on Aug. 26.

“It was great to see him out there,” defender Julius James said. “He did a good job for not playing for so long. He had no recent games under his belt, but it was encouraging he was able to play and go 90 minutes.”

Tchani was finally fit enough this week, but didn’t get the opportunity to play beside Ekpo because the Nigerian midfielder received a red card in the season finale at Chicago.

It was surprising that Tchani played the full match considering his last game was July 9 for Toronto and he faced the challenging mile-high altitude in Commerce City.

“The plan was to go 60 to 70 minutes, but the coach asked me how I felt and if I was cramping up,” Tchani said. “I was very surprised with myself. I thought I would have to come out but I was able to play all the way through.”

The Crew can take some consolation knowing they should have a healthy Tchani full time next season, although Ekpo is out of contract and his status is to be determined.

“I’ll have time later to think about what I can do next year.” Tchani said.

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