OBETZ, Ohio — Maybe Divine Intervention had as much to with Crew defender Danny O’Rourke’s sudden exit from Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt US Open match as referee Sorin Stoica did.
O’Rourke saw action for the first time since left knee surgery in November against the Richmond Kickers in the teams’ quarterfinal matchup, but as sometimes has been the case since coming to MLS in 2005, his emotions got the best of him. Chapin issued a red card in the 67th minute for retaliatory actions against Richmond’s Ryan Heins, and the Kickers went on to earn a 2-1 win.
“Obviously, you don’t want to get a red card for your team,” O’Rourke said. “You take it as a blessing. Maybe it was God’s way of getting me off the field early.”
That O’Rourke played at all was a blessing for him and the Crew. Although he wasn’t sure how long he would last in his first game action in eight months, making it through the first half was a positive step.
“I feel good,” O'Rourke said afterward. “Not having played in over nine months, there’s a general fatigue and tightness. Tuesday was the first step on the next part of my journey. It’s all about the recovery and being able to do that week after week.
“I knew I was going to be excited, but I also know it’s a learning curve for me, my body getting back out there,” he added. “I tried to be real even keel at the beginning and gradually get back into the game. It wasn’t bad.”
Assistant coach Mike Lapper came back from several serious knee injuries in his Crew career as well and understands two things O’Rourke needs to be competitive again.
“Game speed,” Lapper said, “and getting in those first couple of tackles.”
O’Rourke, however, won’t be activated from the injured reserve list for matches Saturday at FC Dallas or July 6 at Vancouver, but there’s a possibility he could be eligible July 16 vs. San Jose.
“A few more practices and a few more tackles,” head coach Robert Warzycha said, “then I think he’ll be ready.”