SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Dropping nearly half of their cushion in the Supporters’ Shield standings thanks to a 3-3 tie with FC Dallas was a bad enough outcome for the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Losing midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy to a torn ACL was even worse.
Ballouchy, making his fourth consecutive start on the right wing, had to come off in the 52nd minute after his left knee gave out from underneath him on the chewed-up turf of Buck Shaw Stadium. The 29-year-old, acquired from New York Red Bulls on July 30, had to be stretchered off the field with his leg encased in a thigh-to-ankle brace.
An MRI exam Monday revealed the torn ligament. A Quakes spokesman said Ballouchy is expected to undergo surgery later this week and is out “indefinitely.”
The injury occurred when Ballouchy leapt into the air to attempt a flying trap. He landed initially on his right foot, which appeared to slip, perhaps contributing to the heavy fall of his left foot. The knee bent outward before Ballouchy dropped to the ground, untouched by any other player.
“You hate to see a non-contact injury like that,” Quakes forward Chris Wondolowski said. “I hope he has a fast recovery. We’re going to need him, because he’s been doing well.”
Yallop has been trying hard to balance his team’s chase of the Shield – which would represent the club’s first trophy since being re-established as an expansion team in 2008 – with giving even mildly injured players plenty of time to recuperate before the postseason begins. In that vein, Ballouchy had been providing vital cover for Marvin Chávez and Shea Salinas, each of whom returned against Dallas to end three- and six-match absences, respectively, with muscle strains.
With Simon Dawkins slowed of late by an ankle injury, it’s possible that Salinas could make his first in more than two months on the left wing, opposite Chávez, when San Jose travel to Colorado next weekend.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.