Down goes another.
Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel reported today that rookie defender Conor Donovan is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Saturday's scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union.
For those of you keeping track at home, Donovan becomes the third Orlando City player this season to seriously injure his knee on the Citrus Bowl turf, where the Lions still have another season to play while their new downtown stadium is being constructed.
"It's bad," Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath told the Sentinel. "He's going to be [out] a long time, the kid, so we obviously feel for him. It's the second one we've had, with Kevin Molino this year, so it's never nice. But he'll be OK, he's a strong boy, good character, he'll work hard and no doubt with our medical people, we've got great faith in them, he'll come back bigger and stronger than ever."
Donovan tore it after colliding with C.J. Sapong in the 10th minute of Saturday's game, which was also his MLS debut. He immediately went to the ground in pain, and would leave the game. Orlando City's 18-year-old Homegrown defender Tommy Redding came on as a substitute to make his Major League Soccer debut, replacing Donovan, and played a fine game for the Lions over the final 80 minutes.
It's the second season-ending injury, joining Kevin Molino, who tore his ACL in a friendly against Ponte Preta back in May. Midfielder Harrison Heath injured his knee at the Citrus Bowl in a friendly against West Bromwich Albion on July 15 but is expected to return before the end of the year. Oft-injured forward Martin Paterson sustained a short-term knee knock in a May 30 clash against Columbus, just a few matches into his delayed (and short-lived) MLS career.
Donovan was selected 22nd overall by the Lions in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft earlier this year as a Generation Adidas player out of North Carolina State University. He was sent on loan to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in USL and recalled after a very short period recently because Sean St. Ledger's untimely departure from the club forced the Lions to call him back.
At just 19 years old, he, like Redding and other young defenders on the roster such as Tyler Turner, have proven that the Lions have a good core of young defenders to build around in the future.
Unfortunately, however, his development will have to pause while he recovers from this latest injury.
As for how this effects Orlando City, Redding is expected to stay with the squad for at least the next few weeks while Brek Shea continues his rehab. And center back David Mateos joined the team over the weekend, and could feature as soon as this weekend, when the Lions travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders.