Gruenebaum head shot

Crew’s top pair look ready to go; Columbus needs this one

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For plenty of teams around MLS, identifying the most important one or two men would become a wonderful starting line for a night of pub debate.

Think about it. Who really is the top influencer or the top pair for the Galaxy? Between David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez, you’d surely get a variety of opinions.

Same for the New York Red Bulls or Kansas City or Chicago, the current Eastern Conference trio of leaders.

But for a few clubs, pinpointing that top pair is pretty basic stuff. Take Columbus, for instance.

Can there be a bit of doubt that playmaker Federico Higuain, new though he be, and goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum (pictured) are the most essential elements to the suddenly foundering playoff hopes around Crew Stadium?

So it comes as the very best of news that both men, in question for tonight’s “gotta have it” match against flailing Chivas USA, appear to be ready to go.

Gruenebaum, a revelation in goal this year as a replacement for injured, previous starter Will Hesmer, left last week’s loss to New York after banging his head on the post. Higuain is dealing with a toe injury.

On the one hand, Columbus might be able to handle this one without their critical pair, leaning more on steady Eddie Gaven and others. Then again, there is zero margin for error at this point. If Higuain and Gruenebaum can go, then go they must.

The current Eastern Conference standings:



Sergio Aguero expects to miss a month with hamstring injury

Sergio Aguero
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After scoring five goals against Newcastle United, Sergio Aguero may have to wait a bit of time to get back to scoring in the Premier League.

The Manchester City striker lasted just 25 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury. 

Aguero underwent testing in Argentina, and told the local media “I think I’m going to be out for a month.”

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Manchester City and Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi said Aguero was in tears in the dressing room, and some reports have penned the injury as a torn hamstring.

If Aguero were to be ruled out for a month, he would miss City’s Champions League clash vs. Sevilla, as well as the massive Manchester derby away at United on October 25.

To make matters worse for City supporters, David Silva was forced off after just ten minutes while playing for Spain today. Silva took a harsh challenge from behind, and hobbled off with what looked to be an ankle injury. If Silva’s injury ends up being more than just a knock, City could be without their two most important players in the attack.

Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze out 10-12 weeks with groin injury

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 21:  Mario Goetze of FC Bayern Muenchen in action during the international friendly match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Inter Milan of the Audi Football Summit 2015 at Shanghai Stadium on July 21, 2015 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Mario Gotze could be out of action until 2016 after picking up a groin injury on international duty.

The Bayern Munich midfielder suffered a tendon tear in his abductor muscle while stretching for a ball in Germany’s 1-0 loss to Ireland in EURO qualifiers on Thursday. He was taken off in the 35th minute.

Ruled out for 10-12 weeks, Gotze is likely to miss the rest of the first half of the season for Bayern. Their last league match of 2015 is on December 19, which is 11 weeks away. The Bundesliga then goes on winter break, with Bayern’s next match not until January 23.

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Gotze will miss both of Bayern’s upcoming Champions League matches against Arsenal, which is good news for the Gunners as they are in desperate need of a result.

However, Arjen Robben is back in training and will make his return to action within the coming weeks. After starting the Bundesliga seasons with eight wins out of eight, Robben’s return would add just another weapon to Pep Guardiola’s dominant attack.

Robben has not played since being injured in early September while playing for the Netherlands, and could feature for Bayern against Werder Bremen next week.