Columbus Crew SC, Harrison Afful, suffers broken jaw

Columbus Crew SC will be without one of their most important players for an extended period of time.

Right back Harrison Afful suffered a broken jaw during the club’s 2-0 win over Atlanta United on Saturday. His jaw will be wired shut for 4-5 weeks at which point Afful will have to regain his match fitness. Head coach Caleb Porter said he’ll be out a while.

It’s another blow for the Crew, who are now without both of their presumed starting fullbacks as Milton Valenzuela suffered a torn ACL in preseason. Afful and Valenzuela were one of the top fullback pairs in MLS last season, if not the strongest. It looked to be a big strength for the club heading into Porter’s first season in Columbus, but now the former Portland Timbers coach will have to turn to backup options at both spots.

The Crew have decided they will distribute the minutes internally rather than acquire a new player, as Hector Jimenez figures to get the majority of the time at right back with Afful out.