SAN JOSE, Calif. — Injuries helped bring Simon Dawkins to the San Jose Earthquakes. Now injuries have taken him away.
Dawkins, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder sent to the Quakes on loan after multiple injury-wracked seasons, underwent surgery Thursday to correct chronic exertional compartment syndrome — a condition in which nerves, blood vessels and muscle are compressed, leading to tissue death from lack of oxygen — in both of his calves.
San Jose coach Frank Yallop said the 23-year-old, who had stepped into a starting role and impressed immediately, will miss four to eight weeks.
“It’s a little disappointing, obviously, with him starting the season so well for us,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “But we’ll soldier on, and hopefully we’ll be going OK when he returns.”
Dawkins, second on the Quakes with two goals in six matches, hasn’t played since going 80 minutes against Chivas USA on April 23. He reached 90 minutes only once in five starts, often being subbed in the final 10 minutes.
Dawkins missed much of 2006-07 with a hernia problem and suffered an ankle injury while on loan to Leyton Orient in 2008. Spurs re-signed Dawkins to a two-year deal in March, just before loaning him to the Quakes, their club partner, with an eye towards helping him regain his fitness.
“Hopefully, this is the only [injury] he’s got [coming] for the next few years,” Yallop said. “We’ll see.”
The loss of Dawkins is a serious blow to the Quakes’ desire to play a more possession-based game this season. He was the hub of creativity in San Jose’s central midfield, especially in scoring what was arguably the Quakes’ prettiest goal of the year — a well-placed shot after knifing through three Toronto FC defenders and trading give-and-go passes with Chris Wondolowski.
“He’s obviously the creator in midfield for us,” Quakes defender Ike Opara said. “Simon’s probably one-of-a-kind on our team in terms of being able to create going forward.”
With his starting XI already in flux after making a rash of changes in response to two poor defeats and playing two matches in three days, Yallop wouldn’t say Friday how he planned to fill Dawkins’ role. Absent a ready-made replacement, it’s likely the Quakes will continue to use the more defensive-minded 4-4-2 formation they brought back last week and used in their two matches without Dawkins.
As Yallop pointed out, Dawkins’ absence has already been keenly felt. The Quakes’ offense looked adrift without him in Philadelphia last weekend, even after the Union went down a man late in the first half.
“You can’t have three or four or five guys that want to keep getting on the ball all the time,” Yallop said. “You’ve got to have one, and it’s Simon, really. He was the busy type who likes the ball a lot. You can’t have two or three guys doing it, because they’re all bumping into each other. Simon was our guy that I felt was the one making us tick a little bit with our good football.”
The Quakes have a bye this weekend, then travel to Vancouver next week to take on the Whitecaps on May 11.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes