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The Sports Hernia Chronicles
by Ridge Mahoney, May 8th, 2008 6:45AM
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[MLS]A week ago, Chivas USA forward Alecko Eskandarian came back from Germany. Next week, FC Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty will head over. With luck, both of them will be training and playing full-time within a few weeks following examinations by noted German surgeon Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck, whose proficiency in treating sports hernias affects athletes of different sports all over the world.

Charting teams in MLS requires more than keeping tabs of results, call-ups, suspensions, and the inevitable ACL and MCL injuries.

Who is going under the knife, most often in Germany, for sports hernia surgery affects players and teams and leagues in dozens of countries.

Mike Magee, Jimmy Conrad, Maykel Galindo, Bryan Namoff, Jeff Cunningham and McCarty's FC Dallas teammate Blake Wagner are among dozens of MLS and U.S. Soccer players to be treated in Germany.

McCarty is an integral part of the FCD midfield; Eskandarian is seeking to establish himself with Chivas USA, his fourth team in the past three years.

Eskandarian spent a week in Munich receiving treatment after Dr. Muschaweck determined that discomfort he felt in his left leg wasn't related to a procedure she performed last year. He has resumed light training after coming back to the United States a week ago and is trying to recover time lost after he'd finally overcome nagging problems with injuries and concussions.

"This offseason was the first time," he said last month about when he began to feel fully healthy.

He scored a goal in Chivas USA's home opener, a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake, despite playing through pain.

"I worked my butt off and lost 10 pounds," said Eskandarian. "I was in the best shape of my life. I had this nagging pain in my lower ab[domen]. I said I'd fight through it but you know every day it just got worse and worse."

McCarty is heading back two years after undergoing the procedure. He's been playing through pain while awaiting his appointment. In Dallas'only loss this season, Khano Smith barreled through a McCarty challenge to score the only goal in a 1-0 Revs victory. He came on as a sub last weekend in San Jose, a 0-0 tie, and is scheduled to leave after Saturday's game at Real Salt Lake. He might have another surgery done or, like Eskandarian, forego an operation for treatment and rehabilitation.

"He did it before and feels comfortable going in that direction," says FCD coach Steve Morrow, who had do without McCarty in March while he played for the U.S. under-23s in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying play. "He's looked fantastic and that experience will make him an even better player for us. I'm quietly confident he's going to have a big year."

Morrow has been working Juan Toja and Pablo Ricchetti back into the midfield equation after brief injury absences while he tests Alvaro Alvarez and Kenny Cooper as a forward pair.

"It's all about those guys and giving them good service and I think we have Toja and Rocha and Ricchetti and McCarty to do that," says Morrow. "Hopefully we can understand each other a little bit more as the season goes along."

Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck will undoubtedly have a say in the outcome.



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