Burling surgery adds to Chivas USA questions

[MLS] Several key members of Chivas USA suffered significant injuries during the 2008 season and one of the players who stepped up to fill in has been sidelined by offseason surgery.

Defender Bobby Burling, a reserve in his rookie 2007 season, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle last week and is expected to be back in time for the start of preseason training in early February.

Burling, who played right back as well as in the middle, will miss six to eight weeks while recovering from the removal of bone spurs and other debris from the ankle. He played 20 games (18 starts) as Coach Preki juggled players to cover for the absences of Claudio Suarez, Shavar Thomas, Alex Zotinca, and Lawson Vaughn, who played a combined total of just 44 games.

Burling, 24, played forward at Loyola Marymount prior to being drafted by Los Angeles in the 2007 SuperDraft and after being waived, joined Chivas USA on a senior developmental contract. He played nine reserve games last year while scoring two goals and making the transition to defender.

Chivas USA is evaluating the status of Brazilian attacker Dejair, who arrived in mid-September on loan. Injuries limited him to three games (128 minutes) during which he scored a goal. The club declined to pick up the option on his contract, as it stipulated a large salary increase for the 2009 season. His base salary was $96,000 and his guaranteed compensation $185,230.77 for 2008 according to the MLS Players' Union salary list.

According to a team spokesman, Chivas USA would like to negotiate another loan deal to get a better idea of how Dejair, 31, can fare in MLS. He came through the Botafoga youth system and played 12 seasons in the lower Brazilian league before signing with MLS. In addition to league competition and the U.S. Open Cup, Chivas USA will compete in SuperLiga next season.

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