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MORNING BRIEFING: Injury jinx hits
by Paul Kennedy, December 3rd, 2008 8AM



A rash of injuries to star players has impacted the men's soccer season like none other in recent memory. The most notable injury was a knee injury 2007 Hermann Trophy winner O'Brian White is reported to have suffered playing for Connecticut -- an injury that could impact his value in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. But other college stars have also been affected.

Four of the six midfielders on Soccer America's Preseason All-American team have been sidelined with injuries this fall.

Three years ago, Kyle Nakazawa was considered one of the top prospects on the U.S. U-17 national team. In his first two seasons at UCLA, he started all 45 games the Bruins played. This fall, he started six games and only played in 10 games because of injury. (Nakazawa wasn't the lone Bruin to go down. Forwards Prince Lapnet and Fernando Monge battled injuries, and fellow freshman Chris Cummings, the starting left back, was lost with an ACL tear.)

Boston College's Alejandro Bedoya, the 2007 ACC Offensive Player of the Year, missed the first two games of the season and three games in early October because of injury.

Besides Bedoya and Nakazawa, both picked on Soccer America's Preseason All-American first team, Harvard's Michael Fucito and Indiana's Brad Ring, selected to the second team, were injured. Fucito missed time because of an aggravated hip injury, while Ring missed the last five games of the regular season with a pelvic injury.

No team suffered such misfortune as Virginia did, losing two of the most exciting freshmen in the country this fall with knee injuries. Chris Agorsor, the nation's top freshman prospect, was lost for the season in September. Then, Tony Tchani, since named the ACC Freshman of the Year, went down with a knee injury of his own in late October.

Akron sophomore Steve Zakuani emerged as a leading candidate for Player of the Year honors, but even the Englishman was hit by the injury bug, suffering an ankle injury that hobbled him late in the season.

Now on to those still alive in the NCAA Tournament ...

Wake Forest's Ike Opara, arguably the best defender in college soccer, has been bothered by a groin injury. He returned for the Deacons' 7-0 win over Dartmouth in the round of 16, but Wake set-up man Austin da Luz remained sidelined with a knee injury that has kept him out of action the past eight games.

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