Rodney Wallace went down hard in the second leg of the Western Conference final, lasting only one half of Portland’s season-ending loss to Real Salt Lake. Turns out his 2013 campaign may not be the only thing that ended with the fall. Having suffered a torn right anterior cruciate ligament and a “non-displaced tibial plateau fracture,” Wallace is set for a 5-7 month recovery after undergoing surgery on Thursday.
Break out your iCals and do a little projecting, and Wallace could be back by April – one month into the new season. He could also be gone until June, in which case, he’ll miss the 2014 World Cup.
Capped 16 times by Costa Rica, Wallace would have been a left-sided option for Jorge Luis Pinto in Brazil. Now, even if he comes back by April, Wallace may not see his way into the Costa Rican squad, the 25-year-old unlikely to be fully game-fit by the time the Ticos boss decides on his 23-man squad.
That miss would be a huge disappointment for Wallace, who is coming off the best season of his professional career. The former D.C. United defender won a spot in Caleb Porter’s attack early in the season, going on to post career highs in goals (7) and assists (6) while helping the Timbers to the Western Conference’s best regular season record.
Now a long-term absence, Wallace’s recovery makes the Steve Zakuani acquisition even more important. Though the Timbers have Kalif Alhassan in reserve, the Ghanian midfielder is a completely different type of talent – more of a playmaker than a “slasher.” Zakuani, on the other hand, is somebody that can get goals when healthy, having reached double-digits in 2010 (10).
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Once Wallace recovers, he’ll team with Zakuani to go two-deep on the left, but how quickly he can compete with Portland’s newest winger could determine whether the Costa Rican appears at his first World Cup.