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May 23, 2007

Injury sidelines Albright, hurts club
By Luis Bueno Editor

Chris Albright had started all five of the Galaxy's games this season.
Chris Albright had started all five of the Galaxy's games this season.
Photo by Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CARSON, Calif. – Early in Sunday’s game against Chivas USA, defender Lawson Vaughn sent a cross into the penalty area toward Francisco Mendoza.

Galaxy defender Chris Albright tried to clear the ball away from danger but instead came away with something disastrous.

“I went to head the ball out and kind of got surprised by Mendoza coming inside and I lunged forward in the air while I was jumping,” Albright recalled. “When I landed, the top half of my weight was going forward and my right leg kind of planted and my knee locked back and that’s what my hamstring couldn’t withstand.”

Immediately, he felt a searing pain.

“I just felt something tear,” Albright said. “I didn’t know the severity of it. It was kind of a nerve sensation too on my sciatic nerve so I don’t know if that was over-intensifying the injury or if it was serious but it was determined that we needed to go in and fix it.”

Albright is feared gone for the season or at least a very long period of time. A tough-as-nails defender, Albright will have surgery on the hamstring. Typical recovery time for such an injury and procedure is between six to eight weeks minimum though Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said Albright might be done for the season.

In any scenario, an injured Albright will be a key loss for the Galaxy, fellow defender Tyrone Marshall said.

“It’s a really big loss. Chris is one of those guys in the back that you need back there. He brings us leadership. He helps us by getting forward and back,” Marshall said. “I’ve played with Chris for the last five years and not seeing him back there is going to be a tremendous loss. For me, I just hope he has a speedy recovery and hope he gets back before the season ends and getting back there so we can play together again.”

Albright acknowledged that his chances of participating with the United States national team at either the CONCACAF Gold Cup or Copa America are “probably going to be out of the question” and his mindset was solely on recovering and playing soccer soon.

Though he has had operations before, Albright’s hamstring surgery will be his first. Still, Albright said he typically has dealt with smaller types of injuries and nothing quite as large scale as this particular injury.

“I’m always kind of dealing with little things, not really big injuries; just tightness and stuff,” Albright said. “I had remarked to myself that I had been feeling really healthy. I was 100 percent.”

Thus far this season, the Galaxy’s schedule has been rather sporadic. The club played two games in the first five days of the season but went another month while playing one league match and two U.S. Open Cup play-in matches.

Albright, though, said the schedule had no role in his injury.

“I don’t think this has anything to do with our schedule or tiredness or lack of preparation,” Albright said. “It was just a freak occurrence.”

With Albright out of the lineup, the task of picking up the slack on the right side would seem to naturally fall to newcomer Abel Xavier. Though comfortable at both central defense and right back, Xavier will not be eligible to play until June 15. In the meantime, Albright said a couple of players could be ready to fill in.

“Nathan Sturgis came on the other day and did a good job,” Albright said. “ Ian Russell has played that position so we have cover there.”

Ultimately, whoever tries to fill Albright’s spot will be hard pressed to replace the first-choice right back.

“We’re just going to find a way to cover that big hole back there,” Marshall said. “We are going to know what Chris meant to us by not seeing him going down the wing and we’re used to seeing those crosses come in and those late runs. We just have to hope guys step up and try to fill that void.”
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