A rough season for the San Jose Earthquakes only got worse with the news that star midfielder Darren Huckerby was lost for the season after undergoing hip surgery last Friday. The Newcomer of the Year winner in MLS last season, and a player San Jose hoped would lead a dynamic attacking offense in 2009, was limited to just 14 appearances in an injury marred season. With Huckerby struggling, the Earthquakes fortunes declined and the team sits bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Huckerby came to San Jose with a history of hip injury problems, but he has managed to stave off any long-term problems through physical therapy and pain relievers. However, already late in his career at age 33, the hip problem became more debilitating this season. Huckerby and the coaching staff knew something would need to be done before long. San Jose coach Frank Yallop was quoted as saying “He was sore most of the time when he was training. Being the pro he is Darren kept battling through it.”
With the 2009 season effectively lost for the Earthquakes, the timing was right for Huckerby to undergo the surgery. As performed by esteemed surgeon Dr. Marc J. Philippon at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colorado, the procedure involved repairing a torn labrum (the cartilage surrounding the hip socket) in his right hip. While the procedure was successful, the recovery period will extend through the end of the Earthquakes season.
Might Huckerby have played his last game in MLS? Having professed he would only ever play for the San Jose Earthquakes in the U.S. and his former club Norwich City in England, his options for next season seem limited. While many expect the Canaries to bring back Huckerby after his MLS contract runs out in December, new manager Paul Lambert may not want the Norwich City favorite back on his squad. Lambert has indicated that he wants to take his League One team forward, and has taken steps away from the relegated club’s recent past, “I think you’ve got to get them (new players) young and hungry, you tend to find it is more beneficial to you than those that are experienced and have had their careers.”
This is potentially good news for San Jose, especially if Huckerby makes a full recovery. When in good health, the left-side midfielder has electrified the Earthquakes crowds with a fast paced attack and some spectacular finishes. San Jose supporters can only hope they haven’t seen the last of Darren Huckerby.