While everyone following Orlando City is talking about the Kevin Molino injury, another big story is the return of Tally Hall. Hall tore his ACL last season while playing for the Houston Dynamo and will likely make his debut for the club within the next couple weeks. However, given the injury the goalkeeper is returning from, fans might want to temper expectations.
The Houston Dynamo began looking for a buyer for Hall when they decided that 26-year-old Tyler Deric, an academy product, would be their goalkeeper of the future. With Hall on the trade block, Orlando City pounced. The expansion side was in need of a goalkeeper and Hall is one of the best in the league. In October, the Lions traded allocation money, of which expansion teams are allotted an abundance, for the star goalkeeper.
Shortly after the deal was put in place, Hall sustained his injury, leaving the Lions without a legitimate starter in goal who would be available for the opening months of the season. To remedy this concern, Orlando secured the rights to former Portland Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts in the expansion draft. The plan was that the 37-year-old Ricketts would man the net until Hall was ready to return.
Hall was expected to be out of action until June, but he has progressed quicker than expected. He's medically cleared for full training at this point, and could even potentially see the field on Friday night against the New England Revolution. And while Ricketts has performed admirably for the Lions this season, there have been times where one wonders if Hall's presence would have made a positive difference.
But is he truly ready to return?
An ACL injury is one of the worst injuries an athlete can have in his career. Usually, the recovery time for this type of injury is around six months. Another issue athletes tend to deal with is the timing of their return. Even with today's medical advances, ACL tears are not fully understood, so returning prior to being 100 percent is a risk.
There are great expectations on Tally Hall upon his return to action. The 29-year-old has been one of the best goalkeepers in MLS over the past five years. However, this is the first time in his career that he has dealt with an injury of this magnitude, and the jury is still out on whether he can return to the same form he showed prior to the injury.
When Ricketts joined the club in December, he was always a temporary replacement. Many had the idea that the team would just need to hold on until June when Hall was expected to return, and then the Lions would have their goalkeeper of the present and future.
Hall's performances in Houston garnered praise from around the league. He's been consistently labeled as one of the league's best goalkeepers. But this is the first time in his career that he has dealt with such an injury, and it's still unknown how he will return. Orlando City fans would be wise to temper their expectations about how Hall, to avoid potential disappointment.