CHICAGO – It’s not the news that the club wanted to hear as they continue to fight to get a spot in the Major League Soccer playoffs with a month-and-a-half left in the season.
Midfielder and designated player Gaston Gimenez will miss the rest of the 2022 MLS season after undergoing successful right hamstring surgery this past week. He suffered the injury against the Philadelphia Union on August 13 and the expected recovery time is four months.
Since signing with the club before the 2020 season, he’s started 59 of the 65 matches he’s played in for the club, leaving the team a spot to fill in the midfield for the rest of the season.
That’s not the best scenario for the Fire, who are right now in need of points to remain in the chase for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. At the moment, they’re five points out of the last spot that’s occupied by Columbus with four teams ahead of them to get that spot.
Making up ground won’t be easy this weekend at Soldier Field as the Fire host CF Montreal, the second place team in the Eastern Conference, who visits Chicago on Saturday. It’s one of eight matches the club has before the end of the season in early October, and you can watch it at 7 PM on WGN-TV, Channel 9.
So who will take Gimenez’s spot in the lineup? Manager Ezra Hendrickson had pointed to one of the Fire’s biggest offseason acquisitions.
“Possibly Jairo Torres is someone we are thinking about maybe can play inside. We have not discussed a formation change because the team was built a certain way,” said Hendrickson. “Really for the last eight games, we’d put certain guys out of position.
“But Jairo has played in the middle.He has shown that he can play there and there’s also (Maur)icio Pineda and (Fabian) Herbers to play with Fede (Federico Navarro). But Fede is our mainstay, Fede is our ball winner. He’ll be on the pitch and we’ll have to pick the best matchup for him to replace Gastón going forward for these las teight games.We have capable players on the pitch, on the team that can do the job.”