UPDATE: Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley underwent successful surgery [fixation of loose cartilage fragment in his right ankle joint] Tuesday evening, according a team release. The surgery was performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Bradley is expected to return to full fitness in approximately four months.
ORIGINAL POST: Jan 20, 1:46 pm ET
As the club reported for 2020 preseason, Toronto FC were immediately dealt an injury blow.
Captain Michael Bradley is set to undergo ankle surgery following a "severe" injury during their 2019 MLS Cup loss to the Seattle Sounders, GM Ali Curtis told media on Monday.
"Michael is going to have surgery [Tuesday] in New York City," Curtis told reporters, including MLSsoccer.com's James Grossi. "He suffered a very severe and complicated ankle injury against Seattle in MLS Cup. We didn't disclose that publicly. Because the details of his injury or injuries of players, you don't necessarily disclose publicly [that] you’re really just working with the medical team and working with the player to try to get them to return to play. And in Michael’s case, he had an X-ray after the game in Seattle, and then we got back to Toronto he got a couple scans."
Curtis indicated that the injury occurred on a challenge with Seattle's Roman Torres around the half-hour mark. The slomo replay showed Bradley's foot bending awkwardly on the impact and he grimaced as he tried to shake it off.
The surgery wasn't scheduled sooner because, as Curtis explained, the club hoped he could avoid surgery and rehab the injury.
"He stayed in Toronto for a tremendous part of the offseason and we really tried to work with him on his rehab as much as possible to try to get him to a point where he's returning to play full strength," Curtis continued. "Ankles are finicky. Sometimes they tend to take long to recover. You’ve got to be careful with those types of injuries and surgery is the last resort, typically, in terms of what you want to do."
While Bradley's long-time USMNT and Toronto teammate Jozy Altidore expressed his frustration at how the injury was handled, manager Greg Vanney called it "a big blow." Vanney will need to find ways to replace Bradley during his extended absence with Homegrown midfielders Liam Fraser and Noble Okello potentially in line to see increased opportunities.
"In Michael’s case, we are going to be careful and cautious about this, but we're confident that once he has the surgery he'll be able to return to play," Curtis said. "It will take probably approximately four months. Now, that could be shorter or could be lengthier, depending upon how we manage that process. Of course, we would love for him to be ready to go today, but that's not going to happen.”
Toronto FC open their campaign on February 29 at San Jose (5:30 pm ET on TSN). If Bradley were to miss exactly four months from surgery, he'd return 14 matches into Toronto's season.
Since joining the club six seasons ago, Bradley has made no fewer than 24 league appearances in a single season.