Injuries take heavy toll on stars in MLS

In an MLS season that many would like to quickly forget, injuries have been a major issue.

Given the start-and-stop nature of the season and the tight schedule since play resumed in home markets in August, it was predictable that injuries would be an issue. But it has been MLS's bad luck that many of its best players have been lost to injuries.

In the last two weekends, Argentine stars Sebastian Blanco and Maxi Moralez suffered knee injuries.

Blanco, who led the Portland Timbers to the MLS is Back Tournament championship, was lost for the remainder of the MLS season after he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in a 2-1 win at Seattle. He is expected to return in approximately six months.

After winning just one its first six games, NYCFC has been on roll with a 4-0-1 record in its last five games. But Moralez had to exit Saturday's 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati with what head coach Ronny Deila said was an MCL injury. NYCFC has been yet released details about the results of the scan done on Sunday.

Just how extensive the injury toll has been on MLS stars, consider this. Of the nine returning players from the 2019 MLS Best XI, Moralez joins five other players on the team who have been injured:

Josef Martinez, Atlanta, out since March (10 games).
Ike Opara, Minnesota United, out since March (9 games).
Carles Gil, New England, out since MLS is Back group stage (7 games).
Carlos Vela, LAFC, out since first game back after MLS is Back (5 games).
Eduard Atuesta, LAFC, out 5 games before returning as a late sub on Sunday.

How costly have been the injuries?

Atlanta United, the 2018 MLS champion, has won just two of 10 games without Martinez. LAFC lost three of four games without Vela and Atuesta. Minnesota United is 3-4-2 since losing Opara. New England scored just six goals in seven games without Gil, who led the Revs in both goals (10) and assists (14) in 2019.

11 comments about "Injuries take heavy toll on stars in MLS".
  1. Zak Jarrell, September 15, 2020 at 7:18 a.m.

    You need to go a step further and write about the tackles that take place in MLS.  It stifles creativity and ruines the game.   It is similar to the NHL when the finally realized the skill players are more important than the thugs.   MLS has turned into favoring the large physical player and the refereeing embraces it.   When will the league realize that skill and creativity is much better to watch than football tackles and zero zero ties?    Zele

  2. Jason Hintz llopis replied, September 15, 2020 at 10:40 a.m.

    Exactly.  I think "professional" tackles seems much more common this year.  Need to get more yellow cards out there. 

  3. Phil Love replied, September 16, 2020 at 10:44 a.m.

    AGREE!!!!!   Why MLS wants to be known as a "physical league," I don't know.  Seems like a poor way to attract skilled talent.  There seems to be a premium on referees "letting the game flow" while letting violent players go unpunished.

  4. frank schoon, September 15, 2020 at 9:40 a.m.

    First Thing, GET RID OF THE ASTRO-TURF.....

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, September 15, 2020 at 12:01 p.m.


  6. Ben Myers replied, September 16, 2020 at 12:09 a.m.

    Yes, yes!  If they have to play on turf, have them wear soccer boots WITHOUT metal-tipped cleats.

  7. Ric Fonseca replied, September 16, 2020 at 11:48 p.m.

    Mr. Schoon, easier said than done.  

  8. Toby Rappolt, September 15, 2020 at 3:03 p.m.

    Are you gentlemen drawing your cause of injury from objective MLS data?

    Raymond Verheijen predicted an increase in injuries in all the professional leagues but not caused primarily by physically combative play and artificial playing surface. 

    Longer layoff + Shorter preseason + Shorter recovery time between games = Greater fatigue with an associated increase in the injury rate 

  9. frank schoon replied, September 15, 2020 at 3:58 p.m.

    What Verhyen states is not rocket science and idiot understands and agrees what he states. But no matter how you look at it ASTRO-TURF is not good for the players and who is to say that some of those injuries aren't due to ASTRO-TURF or have made it worse because of it

  10. Ben Myers replied, September 16, 2020 at 12:17 a.m.

    I've seen injuries on astroturf for years, sometimes when cleats get stuck in the turf.  Add turf to the tendency toward large physical players, seemingly an American tradition is all sports, and sub-standard conditioning, and you have a perfect recipe for injuries.  

    And the quality of play? UGH!

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, September 16, 2020 at 1:04 a.m.

    Toby, my opinion is not limited to injuries in MLS but based on personal playing experience over many years on all types of surfaces as well as information about knee injuries on synthetic surfaces.

    Nothing beats a great grass field for quality play and less stress on the legs and feet. I don't know how anyone could play a match on a synthetic field and not notice the difference.

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