SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Had a phone interview with Ben Fisk this morning. Results at the bottom. dc
Twenty-year-old Battery wingman Ben Fisk has a new tear in the cartilage of his post-operative knee and the decision about what to do with the rest of his season now rests with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Battery Coach Mike Anhaeuser said Friday.
“He’s either done for the season or out for eight weeks, which is close,” Anhaeuser said. “It’s a little worse than the last one.”
Fisk was the first of three players to arrive on loan from Vancouver this spring, showing up in mid-March. He burst on the local scene in his Blackbaud Stadium debut, scoring and assisting against Wilmington in a preseason friendly on March 23. But a pattern soon emerged with his health: Fisk would play with pain in his knee, then miss several days of training. It turned out to be a previously undiagnosed knee injury he’d brought with him from Canada, and though he starred in the home opener against Antigua, the team shut him down afterward. We confirmed on May 9th that he’d had knee surgery, and though the club initially referred to it as an MCL tear, Fisk said it was a meniscus injury.
He returned to the lineup as a substitute on May 25 against Rochester, and started, scored and went 58 minutes in the loss against Harrisburg on May 31st. But Fisk came out of the match with his knee hurting again, and though the club initially characterized it as a minor injury, it turned out to be the new tear. If Anhaeuser’s prognosis proves correct, Fisk will end his 2013 Battery career with two regular season starts, four appearances, 191 minutes, two goals, one assist, and one Man of the Match honor.
Head athletic trainer Bobby Weisenberger said Fisk will return to Vancouver for a medical evaluation, and that he’s not sure whether he’ll return to Charleston.
“It’s a blow,” Anhaeuser said. “It clogs it up (the roster rotation) even more, because on the outside we’ve been thin. Having to play inside guys outside, and they’ve done a nice job, but obviously it hurts you because he’s an offensive weapon.”
The Battery will evaluate their options in finding a replacement.
“We’ve got four roster spots,” Anhaeuser said. “We can always bring in a couple of academy guys, which I’ve already talked to our academy director, and might bring a couple of guys on just to have some cover just in case… We have the option of getting loan players. There are always players that maybe are in Europe, or some guys that aren’t signed, but the biggest place you might look (would be) for another loan player, even from Vancouver. That might be something that we talk to them about. ”
The Battery could also look at a transfer, although the international window doesn’t open until July.
“If we have 21 healthy players, you’re good, but it’s when you have two, three, four injuries that you get down to 16, 17, and you don’t even have enough to put on the bench,” Anhaeuser said. “So we’ll definitely look at it.”
Other players who are not expected to be available for Saturday are Austin Savage (ankle), Emmanuel Adjetey (ankle) and Amadou Sanyang (bruised foot).
SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE
Fisk departed this afternoon for Vancouver, but called before he left to update fans on the situation. He said he was still hoping that the injury wouldn’t be season-ending.
The Whitecaps plan to get him home to Canada and then have him rest his knee for about a week to see if the tear shows any signs of healing on its own, he said.
Right now the option involving the longest recovery time is the one that would involve sewing the torn meniscus back together. If he gets that surgery, Fisk said, the prognosis calls for four-to-five weeks in crutches. That option would certainly push him past the USL PRO season.
Though originally listed as having picked up the injury in the Harrisburg game, Fisk said he thinks he actually injured it in a scrimmage on Sunday. “I kinda felt it there. On Sunday knight, I kinda knew.”
When I told him that the fans I’d spoken with were all hoping for him to make a full recovery, but frustrated because he’d flashed so much talent and they were hoping see more of him during what was always going to be a short stay with the Battery, he said: “Think how frustrated you guys are, and multiply that by about a million times, and that’s about where I am right now.” — dc
TOP IMAGE: Ben Fisk chases down a ball on the sidelines during the home opener against Antigua. Dan Conover photo.