COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even if last week’s surgery keeps midfielder Tony Tchani from making his Crew debut this season, technical director Brian Bliss said the team does not regret the trade with Toronto FC last month.
Tchani underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee on Friday after experiencing chronic pain from being injured on a tackle against Houston on July 9. Six days after the game, he was dealt by TFC to Columbus for defender Andy Iro and midfielder Leandre Griffit.
“[Tchani] may play this year,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “It depends on how he recovers and gets his fitness. He may be out for the year, that’s a possibility, but if he comes back, we’d like to see him play some games.”
Bliss said examinations of Tchani’s knee before the trade did not reveal serious problems and he does not accuse Toronto FC of hiding the severity of the injury. Tchani trained several times with the Crew before the medical staff decided to shut him down.
“Nobody would have known what the injury was or the potential issue at the time the trade was made,” Bliss said.
Had the Crew known that Tchani would potentially be unavailable this season, the move is one Columbus likely still would have made.
“I’m not saying we would not have done [the trade], but the idea is, this guy is 22,” Bliss said. “We’ve seen what he could do in college. We’ve seen what he’s done to this point. This is a future move for the club.”
Tchani, a Cameroon native, was the second overall pick of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by New York. He scored one goal — against the Crew — in 27 games with the Red Bulls, 17 of those starts.
He saw action in two more games for New York before he was traded to Toronto FC early this year. The midfielder started in all 13 of his games with the Reds and scored his second career goal — against the Crew on April 23.
Bliss said Tchani was worth the risk because neither Iro (four Crew games this season) nor Griffit (two minutes) played much. Since the deal, Iro has started seven matches for Toronto while Griffit, who was out with an abdominal strain when he left the Crew, has yet to appear in a match.
Columbus and Toronto will play for the first time since the trade on Sept. 10 at Crew Stadium.
Midfielder Eddie Gaven has missed the past three games with a leg contusion after starting the first 23 matches of the season but could be on the lineup card for the game vs. TFC.
“I hope he is going to be ready to be on the bench,” Warzycha said. “It is going to be difficult to start him, depending how next week is going to go.”
The Crew do not play this weekend and practice does not resume until next Tuesday.
Midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo has been added to Nigeria’s national team for a friendly against Argentina on Sept. 6 in Bangladesh.
He hoped to get his first cap Aug. 9 vs. Ghana in Watford, England, but the match was postponed until Oct. 11 because of civil unrest in the area.
Robbie Rogers (US) and Julius James (Trinidad and Tobago) are also with their national teams.