Crew battles injuries ahead of Montreal clash
In a continuation of what has been the unfortunate story of the season for the Columbus Crew, the health of more of the team's starting lineup may be in doubt for Saturday's match in Montreal (2:00 p.m. ET / MLS Live).
Playmaker and team captain Federico Higuain was a late scratch before last weekend's 3-0 loss in Kansas City, and the Argentinian is in doubt once more with a left adductor strain.
Interim head coach Brian Bliss said that he was pleasantly surprised by Higuain's activity early in the week, but there is still no guarantee he will be able to play.
"He didn't participate the entire week, but he started getting into it near the end of the week," Bliss told MLSsoccer.com. "We'll still have to wait and see tomorrow."
Veteran defender Chad Marshall was able to start against Sporting Kansas City, but went down early in the match with a left quad contusion, and told coaches in training that he wanted to play against Montreal. He is listed as questionable.
"He's much further along than maybe Higuain is, in terms of how he feels," Bliss said. "He was involved most of, or at least 50 percent of the week in training."
Players and coaches alike complained about field conditions in Kansas City last Saturday, where the turf seemed to come up when players made sharp movements. Because of this, Bliss said, defenders Danny O'Rourke and Eric Gehrig and forward Dominic Oduro all suffered muscle injuries, leaving O'Rourke and Oduro questionable for Saturday and Gehrig out completely.
"A lot of it was turf-related from Saturday," Bliss said. "Guys would run and try to change directions, and it puts a lot of down force on your feet. The turf was coming up in chunks, guys were slipping, and muscles were tightening up quickly, and that's where injuries happen."
Defender Josh Williams is still unavailable after taking a hard shot off of the head in training, and will miss his third game in a row. It was likely that Gehrig, who has started the past three matches without Williams, would fill his role again, but did not even make the trip to Montreal. Bliss said the coaching staff is unsure of who will form his central defensive pairing.