The club announced late Wednesday afternoon that midfielder Liam Trotter and forward Vinicius would undergo knee surgeries “in the upcoming days.” There were no specifics given relating to injury, recovery, or timelines for either player. A request for further details remained unanswered at the time of publication.
Vinicius, 21, appeared in 14 matches, netting three goals and registering an assist while operating as a striker and winger. He offers great pace and a tenacious attitude in pressing and harrying opposing defenders out of possession. He is currently in the first year of a multi-year contract.
The young Brazilian’s absence leaves the club with just two natural strikers in Michael Seaton and Giovani Ramos-Godoy. Both are players who rely heavily on their technical ability, strength, and positioning over outright pace, meaning that the Orange County offense loses an important dimension, especially late in matches where Vinicius’ pace is most dangerous.
He has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his appearances, both as a lone striker and out on the wings. In a crucial section of the season, he will be a big loss as the club pushes for a playoff place. Thankfully, Vinicius will find himself tied to the club for at least another season, meaning that he will continue to become more comfortable on and off the pitch, and that supporters are guaranteed more of the striker even if his recovery sees him miss out on further appearances in 2019.
Now, the club must look to Darwin Jones, Jerry van Wolfgang, and Michael Seaton to share the creative duties on the squad. During a crucial time of the season, each must step up massively while remaining fit. Newcomers Edson Alvarado, Kevin Coleman, and Connor Gordon will likely see more playing time as well, with Coleman likely shifting over into a central role to help manage Seaton’s minutes.
Trotter, 30, has appeared in 16 matches. Playing as both a central midfielder and a center back, he registered two assists, most notably in his club debut to rescue a late point in extra time against New Mexico United.
While not quick or a major goal scoring threat, Trotter has brought a great deal of experience to the club, having played in over 330 matches in his career.
Trotter seems to be a more quiet figure both on and off the pitch, but his experience is evident in the side. He is far from the most mobile player, but he is a calm head in the middle of the park whose physicality and sheer size allows him to soak up pressure before laying the ball off to more creative and faster players.
The loss of Trotter is likely to be negated by the return of Christian Duke, who is coming off of a serious upper body injury sustained in the preseason. But other questions remain of the veteran’s status: With little speed to spare in a league ripe with pace, will Trotter be able to keep up when he returns? Were there discussions between player and club for the future and how will those now be affected?
Elsewhere in the midfield: How will Trotter’s role change with the return of Christian Duke? Is this Sebastien des Pres’ shot at making the 18 every week? Will Aodhan Quinn continue to feature as a deep lying playmaker with the loss of Trotter?
While there is never an opportune time for injury, the club can at least rely on the services of other players in the squad who seem to be rounding into form, helping lessen what would otherwise be two massive injury blows. With three matches over the next 10 days, the rotation of these players will be crucial towards earning much needed results in some must-win matches. Much like the two struck down by injury, it will be a mix of proven and new talent that fill the gaps created by the absences of Vinicius and Trotter. We wish both players nothing but the best of luck in their procedures and recoveries and we hope to see them in the Orange and Black again soon.