To the relief of D.C. United, which was bracing itself for gutting news, X-rays on midfielder Danny Cruz’s ankles were negative.
Cruz was injured during a 3-1 victory over the Charleston Battery on Wednesday night at the Carolina Challenge Cup in South Carolina.
He hurt his left ankle in the first half but remained in the match. In the 76th minute, his legs were swept out by hard-charging Battery defender Mark Wiltse, who was red-carded. A doctor on site suspected a fracture to the right ankle.
However, X-rays around midnight at an area hospital showed no breaks.
“I’ve never been tackled like that before,” Cruz said while watching United’s training session at The Citadel on Thursday morning. “I didn’t see it coming. That was the worst part. As a player, if you have time to get out of a challenge, you can help yourself, but not on this one.”
Both ankles are bruised and swollen, but he was able to walk without assistance. A timetable to return to practice hasn’t been determined.
Although Cruz’s right ankle was more severely impacted, the left was causing him more discomfort the morning after the incidents. He said he has marks on his foot/ankle from where another Battery defender made contact.
On the second-half challenge, “I was trying to let the ball roll through my legs and turn out. So I left my legs open for the ball to come underneath. He came in. If I had tried to take a touch, it could’ve been a lot worse.”
Asked about the tackle, Cruz added: “I am a pretty physical player myself, but I wasn’t happy about it. It was a completely unnecessary challenge, especially where it was on the field,” at the sideline far from the goal.
On a lighter note, Cruz saluted athletic trainers Brian Goodstein and Gabriel Manoel for teaming to carry him at least three times: around the field to the bench on the opposite side, into the locker room after the game, and down a hallway for observation.
“They got some good workouts,” he said.
In other United news:
*Defender Ethan White sat out training with a sore knee.
*Practice was shortened to 45 minutes when lightning flashed nearby. The players rushed to the team vans and headed to a gym on The Citadel campus.
*Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and midfielder Perry Kitchen were scheduled to arrive this afternoon from Dallas, where they helped the U.S. under-23 national team defeat Mexico, 2-0, in a friendly Wednesday night. Hamid played the first half. Kitchen went 90 minutes at center back. Both are likely to play in United’s preseason finale Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
This marks my final dispatch from Charleston. I’m heading to Richmond for a college basketball tournament before returning to Washington ahead of United’s MLS opener next Saturday against Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium. Lowcountry shout-outs for outstanding eating experiences at Husk, Hank’s Seafood, Queen Anne’s Revenge, Old Towne Grill, D’Allesandro’s Pizza and, for its proximity to The Citadel and free wireless, Bruegger’s.
Hard to leave Charleston. Wonderful preseason destination for MLS media and supporters alike.