OBETZ, Ohio – A familiar face with a new body reappeared at the Columbus Crew’s training facility on Tuesday.
William Hesmer, the club's starting goalkeeper since 2007, started the next phase of his rehabilitation following microfracture surgery on his right hip in April. Though he didn't join the team in their preparation for Saturday's match at D.C. United, he did side work with goalkeeper coach Vojislav "Scoop" Stanisic.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been six months,” Hesmer told MLSsoccer.com afterward. “It’s gone by pretty quick. I probably feel better at this time of the year than I have at this time when I’m playing.”
Hesmer, 30, did not appear in any matches in 2012 and was put on the season-ending injury list after his surgery, so there’s no rush to return to the lineup.
“I want to push it but be smart,” he said. “There’s nothing to play for right now. I’m out for the year.
Cell Phone Candids: Will Hesmer
“I can’t help these guys other than maybe some moral support, but I’ll try to do everything I can to make this now two-game season go well for us.”
Hesmer had been bothered by the injury for several years and had trouble sleeping because of the shooting pains when he moved his leg. Those symptoms are now gone.
“I feel stronger. I feel like [the hip] works,” he said. “When I’m down in an athletic position it’s not ‘clunk, clunk, clunk’ through the motion. It’s fluid and it’s agile.”
Hesmer, who is scheduled to train twice a week, is more concerned about proving to himself he is healthy than whether or not the Crew offer him a contract for 2013 to compete with Andy Gruenebaum, the backup for five years before taking over in his absence.
“I feel like I’ve had years taken of my body versus the other way,” Hesmer said. “It’s put me in a better position going forward. Whatever happens then happens.”
Defender Josh Williams also returned to practice, but he had not been away as long as Hesmer.
Williams suffered a concussion in the second half of the Sporting Kansas City match on Oct. 7 and was not cleared by the medical staff to resume training until passing a battery of tests on Monday morning.
“I had [a concussion] when I was 12 or 13, that was the only other one, but when you’re a kid you rebound a little quicker,” he said. “This was my first real experience. I was shut down for week. It was a weird feeling.”
On the mend
Carlos Mendes (hamstring) is in his second week of no-limits training and could see action Saturday for the first time since Aug. 25, while fellow defender Julius James has been nursing shoulder and ankle injuries but is expected to be available for the match.
Meanwhile, forward Federico Higuaín (foot) and Jairo Arrieta (ankle) benefitted from the open weekend and coach Robert Warzycha said both are near 100 percent healthy.