OBETZ, Ohio – At halftime on Wednesday, the thought of losing defender Chad Marshall for an extended period was even more chilling than the prospect of the losing the match to Houston.
Fortunately for the Crew, there was good news the day after the team forged a 2-2 tie with the Dynamo — despite playing down a man for 79 minutes — on a night in which Marshall had to leave the game with a hip injury.
It was the first time Marshall had been forced out of a game all season.
“Basically the MRI didn’t show anything,” coach Robert Warzycha said on Thursday.
Marshall, the MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and ’09, might even be ready for Saturday’s game at Philadelphia.
“It depends how he responds to treatment,” Warzycha said. “He may be available for the game against Philly, he may not.”
Marshall hurt his hip early in the match after a hard collision with Dynamo forward Will Bruin.
Midfielder Dilly Duka also left the game when he took a high boot from Je-Vaughn Watson in the stomach that resulted in the Crew’s second successful penalty kick in the match by Andres Mendoza. The Crew took a 2-1 lead in the 76th minute but yielded the equalizer to Calen Carr 10 minutes later.
The news is positive for Duka, too. He is fine and will be available Saturday, but midfielder Eddie Gaven (leg bruise) and forward Emilio Renteria (concussion) will miss another game before resuming training next week.
Also, rookie midfielder Rich Balchan has a reoccurring groin problem and could be out indefinitely.
Of course, the other player to miss the Union match will be midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo, who received a red card in the 11th minute on Wednesday for swinging his arm into the face of former teammate Andy Moffat.
Moffat didn’t think the incident was intentional and admitted he embellished it.
“I don’t think Manu meant anything,” he said. “He caught me off guard. I probably rolled around a little bit longer than some players would have done, but I was a bit fired up.”
Ekpo was stunned by the straight red.
“It was an unjust call,” he said. “It happens all the time in the game of soccer. I tried to fend him with my hand on his shoulder and he probably bent down a little bit and I got him in the face. It wasn’t intentional.”
Ekpo’s ejection was especially unwelcome considering midfielder Danny O’Rourke and defender Shaun Francis started for the first time this season after long injury rehabs.
They had combined to play 25 minutes prior to the match but both went the distance vs. the Dynamo.
“You’re thinking, ‘How long can they go?’ Maybe 75, 80 minutes and then they are going to be fatigued,’” Warzycha said. “In Shaun’s case he was fatigued at the end but playing down a man for 80 minutes, that’s extra work. They did well. Hopefully, it’s not going to affect them the next game.”