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Beasley, Pope each expected to miss at least two weeks with World Cup-related knee injuries.

DaMarcus Beasley
DaMarcus Beasley (in red) came home from the World Cup with a sore right knee. An MRI revealed only a bruise, relatively good news for the injury-strapped Chicago Fire.
By Gary Davidson
SoccerTimes

(Wednesday, June 26, 2002) -- Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley will be out at least two weeks, but the news was mostly good for the Chicago Fire and its young midfielder.

An MRI on his right knee revealed a bruise, but no serious damage that would require surgery. Beasley's knee will be re-evaluated in two weeks before he is cleared to play.

Meanwhile, Beasley's United States World Cup teammate, defender Eddie Pope, has been ruled out from D.C. United's Saturday home game with the Los Angeles Galaxy and probably its July 4 date at the Kansas City Wizards, and will likely miss at least two weeks with a sore left knee.

"All things considered, he´s been through a heck of a war," United coach Ray Hudson said. "They were injecting him before every (World Cup) game and he was sucking it up. It never showed in his performance that there was anything wrong with him. We´ll survive another couple of weeks."

Complicating matters for United, Pope's replacement in the central defense, Ryan Nelsen, received a call-up from New Zealand´s national team to play in the Oceania Nations Cup July 5-15 in Auckland. Nelsen, who has three goals in the last three games, including game-winners in the last two home games, will play in Los Angeles before being absent for the next three outings.

After blanking the Colorado Rapids 2-0 last Wednesday, the D.C. defense recorded another shutout Sunday, playing a 0-0 draw Sunday in an exhibition against Argenitine power Boca Juniors.

While fellow 20-year-old U.S. national-teamer Landon Donovan rushed back from Friday’s 1-0 World Cup quarterfinal loss to Germany to make a token appearance at the end of the San Jose Earthquake’s 4-0 romp over the visiting Colorado Rapids in Saturday night MLS action, Beasley was on the sidelines that afternoon when Chicago fell to the visiting MetroStars 1-0.

Having Beasley out for any great length of time would be a blow to the Fire which as been devastated by injuries all year long, including losing defensive midfielder Chris Armas for the season after he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament playing for the U.S. in the "Road to Korea" series before the World Cup.

Fire officials said Beasley’s knee problem might have originated during the "Road To Korea" exhibitions. The injury was aggravated by a collision during the World Cup match against South Korea.

"He’s had a little something bothering him since he’s been away," Chicago coach Bob Bradley said.

Called into a starting lineup remade because of injuries to midfielder Claudio Reyna and striker Clint Mathis, Beasley was sensational in the Americans’ stunning 3-2 upset of Portugal in their Cup opener. He was less effective, playing the first 75 minutes of the 1-1 draw with South Korea, and came in as a sub in the 36th minute, replacing injured defender Jeff Agoos, in the 3-1 loss to Poland to conclude Group D play.

Given the secrecy surrounding the U.S. camp in South Korea, no formal injury announcement was made, but Beasley did not play in the U.S. 2-0 second-round victory over Mexico or its 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Germany. Word was Beasley had received a "nick" in the right knee, but its severity was not addressed.

Prior to joining the U.S. men, Beasley had scored one goal, playing in five Fire games in his third MLS season.

On June 18, the Fire lost its midfielder and captain Peter Nowak to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee from a non-contact incident in the seventh minute of an exhibition against the A-League’s Indiana Blast. The four-time MLS All-Star is expected to be sidelined eight-to-10 weeks.

This was just the latest in an unbelievable string of ailments that have hampered Chicago which is 5-6-2 after losing three straight.

On Thursday, the same day an MRI revealed the damage to Nowak’s knee, rookie forward Mike Nugent had surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee, putting him on the shelf for six-to-eight weeks.

On May 19, midfielder Sergi Daniv tore ligaments in his right big toe, requiring surgery that will keep him out until late August at the earliest.

"Peter was really a fluke thing in terms of taking a ball off the end of his foot, hurting his MCL," Bradley said. "Serge got kicked, actually, and tore the ligaments around his big toe. It’s been pretty hard to figure out."

Striker Hristo Stoitchkov missed the beginning of the season with a hernia and then sprained his right knee after his return. Defender Evan Whitfield and forward Aleksey Korol injured their left knees while midfielder Jason Moore went down with appendicitis. Since his return, Moore has suffered two concussions.

Prior to last Saturday's 1-0 loss to the MetroStars, the Fire had lost 70 player games because of injury, national-team call-ups, and suspension -- Korol (12), Whitfield (10), Armas (8), Stoitchkov (8), Beasley (7), Josh Wolff (7), Dema Kovalenko (4), Jason Moore (4), Jim Curtin (3), Carlos Bocanegra (2), C.J. Brown (2), Ante Razov (1), Craig Capano (1) and Miguel Saavedra (1). Thats’ an average of 5.83 player games lost per outing.

Chicago is relying on a lineup relying much on rookies and regular call-ups from the A-League, such as Milwaukee Rampage forward John Wolyniec and Minnesota Thunder midfielder Johnny Torres.

"There’s nothing you can do about it," Bradley said. "In the meantime, what you try to do is build a good idea within your team that they’re still things we can do on the field. There are things you can do to win games whether you have all your best players or not. We’ve had some stretches where we’ve done these things well and then we’re in the midst of a three-game stretch where we’ve had some chances to win games and we haven’t. Little things have cost us.

"What we do not want to do is say, ‘If we had this guy or that guy, we could win the game,’ because you’re losing sight of the fact that we can still win games. . . There’s still lessons to be learned and things you need to do well throughout a season and that’s got to be our focus."

Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes managing editor and can be e-mailed at editor@soccertimes.com.

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