OBETZ, Ohio – Columbus Crew SC’s Tony Tchani will have to wait a bit longer for his debut on the international stage after he was unable to join Cameroon due to injury.
The midfielder played 74 minutes in the club’s 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact on Sunday in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, but after dealing with a nagging hamstring injury all week, he couldn’t go on.
“I felt it all week,” he said. “I was getting treatment, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not. By Friday I felt a little better. So I told Gregg [Berhalter, Crew SC head coach] I wanted to be part of the team.
“I was feeling it a little bit, but I got ready to go. It was a game we needed to win. So I said, ‘I can go hard, as long as I can go and be subbed out after. If someone else can come in and finish the job, that would be good.’”
But the extra play reaggravated the injury, meaning Tchani would miss the trip to join Cameroon for the first time.
“It was something I was looking forward to,” he said. “I was really excited when I heard I had the call-up. Not being able to go, I was really hurt. But my main focus was on Sunday, playing with my professional team. I think there will be other opportunities.”
According to some, one of those opportunities could be with the US national team.
Born in Cameroon, Tchani became a US citizen in 2013 after moving to America in 2006. During the broadcast of Sunday’s match, commentator Taylor Twellman speculated that if Tchani didn’t join Cameroon this week, he could be one of the players called into USMNT camp in January.
Tchani, however, says he isn’t thinking about the next round of call-ups until they happen.
“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “I’m always focused on the team first. Those things will come.”
What would his decision be if both countries called?
“That’s something I’d have to discuss with my mom,” he said with a laugh. “I know I’m the one playing, but I need the support of my family, too. I’ll have to sit back and talk with them, and ask, ‘Which place is the one for me?’”
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Tchani says he’s “not in my mom’s mind,” so he’s not sure what she’d say. But at this moment, he’s simply working to be fit enough to play against the New York Red Bulls next Sunday (5 pm ET; ESPN) in the first leg of the conference championship.
And while he won’t be joining a national team during international play this weekend, the break couldn’t have come at a better time for Tchani and his sore hamstring.
“This whole year, I didn’t really have any break,” he said. “So now, being a little bit injured, I can pick up other injuries if I don’t take care of it. So this week is just getting treatment every day and focusing. I’ll be almost ready for next Sunday.”