Fri, Apr

Columbus Crew's Kevin Molino

Columbus Crew head coach Caleb Porter had a positive update on Kevin Molino earlier this week, noting the winger may make his debut with the defending MLS Cup champions upon their return from the June international break.

The Crew will look for their third straight win when hosting Chicago Fire FC on June 19 for the final match at Historic Crew Stadium, and Molino seems to be progressing well. Porter disclosed that the 30-year-old is back in team training and appears on the mend from a hamstring injury that’s forced him to miss their first seven matches of the 2021 campaign.

“He was obviously a big signing for us and brings a lot to the table in terms of chance creation, goals, assists,” Porter said, as relayed by The Columbus Dispatch. “We’re hoping he can play a role [against] Chicago, [but it] may be too soon. He’s going to be a guy now in this second quarter of the year that hopefully will play a big role and help us create more goals and bring a different dimension to our team.”

Molino was deemed one of the signings of the offseason, joining Columbus as a free agent after sparking Minnesota United FC toward the Western Conference Final during the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Trinidad and Tobago international has 32 goals and 27 assists across 104 career regular-season MLS games.

Porter’s also monitoring the health of winger Luis Diaz, who was replaced on Costa Rica’s Concacaf Nations League roster after suffering a knee injury. But the head coach doesn’t expect Diaz to miss too much time, assuaging concerns about the 22-year-old speedster’s status.

“It’s not serious, but serious enough where he’s not able to train right now,” Porter said. “Might be out a week, maybe two, but nothing more than that, but it’s a knock. Little bit of an MCL kind of light sprain.”

Columbus have been slammed by injuries in the season’s opening stage, with homegrown midfielder Aidan Morris tearing his ACL during Concacaf Champions League play. Left back Milton Valenzuela has also missed time, as have midfielder Perry Kitchen and several others.

But the Crew appear to be rebounding, knocking off New York City FC and Toronto FC in back-to-back weeks before MLS paused for the June international window.