GIASE: After suffering season-ending injury, Perrinelle "looking forward and hoping the guys will take care of business"

Damien Perrinelle’s head was down, his words soft and slow. He knew his season was over, but it took until the end of a three-minute interview before he even mentioned the word ‘surgery’, perhaps hoping to avoid it if it was not said out loud.
Perrinelle’s off-season has begun four games too early after it was discovered that he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Sunday’s 1-0 victory over D.C. United in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Washington.
“It’s sad. It’s bad news,” said Perrinelle, whose left knee was wrapped in a brace. “But now I’m ready for next season and I’m looking forward and I hope the guys will take care of business.”
With the second leg Sunday at Red Bull Arena, the Red Bulls will take the field without arguably their best defender this season.
“Right now we’re just devastated for Damien,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. “We’re all just sad that at this point in the year he has to go through this injury, so it’s so much more about Damien then it is about the team. Since he’s gotten the news, … he’s starting to wrap his mind around the fact that now it’s just about doing everything he can to make sure that he can get himself healthy and back going again next year.”
Perrinelle says he’ll be back. He just doesn’t know the timetable yet.
“I will be there for the next season. I hope the beginning of the next season,” said Perrinelle, who started 27 of 28 games and collected two goals and one assist this year. “It should be five, six, seven months. It will depend on the condition of my knee. I’m pretty confident because I had the same thing on my right leg, on the right knee, and it was between five and six months. … If it’s six, seven months, then it’s probably a surgery.”
“It was a good season. I have enjoyed my time this season with this team, with Jesse and everybody. I will be the first fan for sure for the rest of the season, and I’m sure they will do a good job.”
Just three minutes into the second half of a scoreless game, Perrinelle and D.C. United forward Alvaro Saborio each jumped for a head ball. Saborio got to it first and headed it toward the Red Bulls goal, but as Perrinelle landed his left leg buckled and he was in immediate pain when he hit the ground.
“Of course I knew there was something wrong with my knee,” Perrinelle said. “But you still believe it can be nothing, but that’s life. In my past I had some hurdles, but I’m still alive and I can still stand up, and it will be the same for this time.”
So the Red Bulls will move on with Matt Miazga and Ronald Zubar at center back. Miazga felt terrible about Perrinelle but believes Zubar can step in and do the job.
“It’s obviously a big loss. Damien’s had a great year and he’s been an important part of our team and the way we do things,” Miazga said. “But that’s soccer so we have to move on. We have guys that can fill in. All year we did that. We had a lot of suspensions and injuries. Nothing changes. Guys are ready to come in. Ronald did a good job when he came in against D.C. We’re looking to continue that. It’s a big loss but I’ll be praying for Damien for a quick recovery.”
Marsch feels the same way.
“If you go to us as a team, it’s no different than when Chris Duvall went down,” Marsch said about Duvall’s broken leg in a U.S. Open Cup match in July. “It’s time for everyone else to step up. Whenever you have a guy (get hurt) you first feel for him and everybody’s got to now be ready to help cover for a job that’s been done and make sure that the next guy that steps in is ready to go and that we’re not fazed as a group. I know that we’re strong and we’ll be able to do it.”
Zubar also feels for his friend and teammate, but is ready to step in and keep up the team’s stellar defensive record this season.
“The only thing you can do is go forward and win games for him because obviously Damien’s been one of the best defenders this year for us and the best part of the success we’ve had so far,” Zubar said. “It was really, really disappointing after the game, to be honest. We didn’t know what was going on until (Monday) but it’s really mixed feelings.
“I was happy to win the game, but at the same time you have one guy down, it’s never cool. Everybody was sad on the way back and even (Monday) when we knew what’s going on with his knee. Now just as Jesse said, just stick with him and make sure we support him and now just make sure we keep going forward for him.”
Though Miazga has been a fixture on the back line all season and Zubar has played significant minutes, they were each paired with Perrinelle the majority of the time. They’ve started just two games together this season. Miazga, however, seemed unconcerned.
“Ronald can step in easily,” Miazga said. “He’s also a big part of what we’re doing here. You saw when he came in against D.C. It was a seamless transition, and also the game’s he’s played he didn’t miss a beat. That’s football. If a guy gets hurt you have to move on and the next guy has to be ready.”
Zubar agreed.
“We are training a lot together,” he said. “We played a few games. He’s a good guy. He really listens to everything. He’s trying to get better and better all the time. When he steps on the field he does a great job so I’m sure we will have success together and make sure we keep the same mentality and be really strong as we’ve been doing the last couple of games.”
Marsch doesn’t see any issues with the pairing.
“We’ve talked about different things and shown different things,” the coach said. “Even though they haven’t played a lot of minutes together they both understand how it works. They understand their roles and they actually have potential to be a great pairing.
“In the games they’ve played in they’ve done well. I’m excited for Ronald. In all these moments, when you feel for Damien, it’s a chance for another guy to step in and establish himself a little bit further. It’s a good time for Ronald to show everything he’s about.”
Marsch said he was thrilled with the amount of the traveling supporters and the noise they produced in the first leg and can’t wait to experience the atmosphere of his first home playoff game as coach of the Red Bulls.
“I expected maybe 200 or 300 traveling fans, and to get close to 1,000 was pretty awesome,” he said. “I know our players felt the energy of the crowd. Our fans and supporters have just grown to love this team. It certainly makes us proud when we can share those moments with our fans, especially in a big road win in the playoffs.
“Now, coming back to Red Bull Arena, we want a packed house. ... We want all our fans to come out and support this team and help with the extra push that we need to now move on to the next round.”


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