Houston Dynamo left surprised, disappointed by Tony Cascio's ACL injury

HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo sent Tony Cascio for an MRI to see what was causing the discomfort in his right knee. The results they got were worse than they expected.

The club learned that the promising 24-year-old midfielder had torn the ACL in his right knee, an injury that warranted reconstructive surgery earlier this week and will keep him out the rest of the season.

“We were all surprised and obviously really disappointed,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We had high hopes for him playing for us and giving us some goals and good production.

“First, you feel sorry for him because he’s a good guy and is bummed about it, and it’s a bit of a downer for the team because we expected some good things for us from him this year.”

Kinnear said Thursday that the club was unsure exactly when Cascio’s injury occurred, but he added that Cascio reported some discomfort following a 90-minute effort in the team’s loss at the New York Red Bulls on April 23. Cascio did not appear in the team’s match against the Portland Timbers last Sunday.

“My heart goes out to him, I know what that’s like,” said defender David Horst, who missed most of 2013 with a broken right leg. “It’s [about mental strength] and having a good group of people around you. I think all of us are going to be supporting him over the next few months here. …Tony’s a strong kid, he’ll be back better than ever.”

Cascio appeared in five games (four starts) this season after he was acquired by the Dynamo in January on loan from the Colorado Rapids, the first intraleague in league history.

Houston’s team physician performed the surgery, and Cascio will remain with Houston for his rehabilitation process. He will also stay on the Dynamo’s roster and salary cap.

“We’re going through the first on a lot of things here,” Kinnear said. “He’s the first loan player in MLS, and sadly he’s become the first loan player with an injury. We’re kind of learning as we go on this one. Its unchartered territory, so hopefully it doesn’t happen again to somebody, but maybe if it does they’ll call us for some direction for the right protocol.”

Without Cascio, the Dynamo are left a man down and the club are evaluating their options.

Kinnear pointed to  prime opportunity for the likes of Brian Ownby, who has shuffled back and forth between Houston and their USL PRO affiliate, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Keeping him in Houston is an option, as well as possibly recalling Jason Johnson. The club also has Panamanian attacker Yairo Yau on trial.

With the World Cup looming and with it the potential losses of US midfielder Brad Davis and Honduran playmaker Boniek Garcia, however, the club will look to make further additions. That means Houston will have to work within tight cap space if they want to replace Cascio from outside the organization.

“The summer’s fast approaching and there’s a possibility there’s a couple of guys that may be missing for us,” Kinnear said. “Yeah, I think it’d be nice to add to the roster and we’ll start looking around here and seeing what we can do.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.