Offseason loan deals are fraught with danger. Remember David Beckham's torn Achilles' while with AC Milan?
Omar Gonzalez's loan stint to Germany's FC Nuremberg ended just as it was starting, and the big center back's 2012 Major League Soccer season could be finished, too.
The Bundesliga club confirmed Friday that Gonzalez tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after knocking knees with German-born U.S. national-teamer Timmy Chandler in his first training session with Der Club.
“Still in shock that this happened,” Gonzalez posted on his Twitter account. “Your support and well wishes will carry me through a strong (and hopefully quick recovery!”
The Galaxy recalled Gonzalez, 23, who will return to Los Angeles “to be evaluated by club doctors,” a team spokesman said in an email. “We will have more information regarding the extent of the injury following that examination.”
Nuremberg reported on its website that Gonzalez is heading back to Southern California for surgery. Recovery time for ACL tears range from six to nine months, rarely longer, but regaining on-field form can take nearly as long afterward.
“The team doctor in L.A. is doing the operation,” Nuremberg press officer Arndt Sonneck told MLS's website. “Then we will see if he can come back to Nuremberg, but the most important thing is that he is better. That is the first thing, that he can recover in good time.”
Nuremberg revealed, when it announced the loan deal Thursday, that it had been planning to make a move for Gonzalez in next summer's transfer window.
“This is very bitter for Omar,” Nuremberg chairman Martin Bader said on the club's website. “He wanted to show us what he can do, and we had great hopes in him. The important thing is that Omar is healthy and fit again. We wish him well.”
The Galaxy lost two center backs to ACL tears last season -- Leonardo, forced to the sidelines after starting seven games, and Sean Alvarado, injured in an MLS Reserve League game -- and face a gargantuan task in replacing its most important defensive player.
It likely will impact L.A. elsewhere on the field. A.J. DeLaGarza's importance in central defense is amplified without his former University of Maryland teammate next to him, and that could end any potential plans to move him to right back, pushing Sean Franklin up to the right-midfield slot and Landon Donovan to a forward-line pairing with Robbie Keane.
The Galaxy is likely to trade for a central defender or, if one's available, trade up in next week's draft to find some sort of replacement, but there's no replacing Gonzalez. He was MLS's Rookie of the Year in 2009, a Best XI selection in 2010 and took a huge step forward in his development last season.
He was rewarded with a call-up into the U.S. national team's January camp, but on Wednesday he was officially withdrawn for he could join Nuremberg.