OBETZ, Ohio – In the midst of a rough spell of injuries, Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel ahead of Saturday's road matchup with the New England Revolution (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
On an already thin roster, regular starters Jairo Arrieta, Hector Jimenez and Josh Williams have all seen extensive time on the injury report lately. And while Williams will be absent long-term, Berhalter said the statuses of others are improving.
Arrieta, who strained his hamstring against the New York Red Bulls on July 12, could be in the fray as early as next week, while Jimenez, who suffered an MCL sprain after a reckless tackle in Colorado on July 4, is working his way back as well.
Rookie Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden is out for the season after undergoing hip surgery on Wednesday.
Williams is a unique case. The fullback underwent a thoracic outlet procedure July 16 to remove a rib that was causing compression on a vein and leading to blood clotting problems. After the surgery, Williams was placed on the Disabled List and could also miss the remainder of the season.
“I think the corner is turning with [injuries],” Berhalter said. “We’re slowly starting to get guys returning. Hector’s timeframe is three weeks, maximum, Jairo is right around the corner. Besides Fifi, who’s season-ending, and Josh, which is unfortunate, we’re getting back into it and getting guys back on the field.”
Berhalter was the most optimistic about Arrieta.
“[Arrieta] could be back maybe next weekend, playing a role,” he said. “He did the warm-up with the group [in training] and some ball work.”
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Jimenez, who was on crutches for an extended period after Vicente Sanchez’s tackle, may be nearing a return as well.
“He’s on track, maybe a little ahead of schedule but not significantly,” Berhalter said. “The doctors have done a great job with him, he’s been doing a great job, so we expect him to be returning.”
As for Williams, Berhalter still isn’t sure if he’ll be back in 2014.
“It’s touch-and-go right now,” Berhalter said. “We want him to come back, that would be great, but you just never know.”