Carlos Bocanegra, former captain of Rangers, Fulham, & the United States national team, has missed the last two matches for Chivas USA due to a concussion suffered against DC United on July 20th. The team had been riding a surprising four game winning streak (they only won six matches last season) prior to the 3-1 loss to DC United. In the two matches that Bocanegra has missed – Chivas has returned to their losing ways – losing 3-0 & 1-0.
There is nothing in the timeline of the DC United match that hints at when in the game that he suffered the head injury – outside him being fouled in the 29th minute. He played the entire match – but you can assume that it must have happened before Chivas allowed the third & final goal. Eric Bobadilla described the play for The Goat Parade’s review of the match…
On DC’s final goal, Luis Silva must have been salivating when he noticed CUSA’s backline roll out the red carpet to get his shot off. Once Silva made his run past Eriq Zavaleta, Zavaleta appeared to have a quick moment of hesitation, probably asking himself “is Carlos Bocanegra gonna get him? Oh man, I hope Boca gets him.”
What made things a bit more frustrating was the lack of defensive recovery from Bocanegra. After his initial challenge on the ball, he essentially slows down to a walk, watching Silva position himself to give DC a 3-0 lead.
Chivas’ manager, Wilmer Cabrera, acknowledged Bocanegra’s absence after Sunday’s loss to FC Dallas. He explained, via MLS’ official website, “We’re following protocol and you’ve got to be patient with it.”
“The most important thing in this case with the concussion is we want to be patient & don’t want to force anyone or accelerate anything. If we can have him, fantastic, but if we can’t have him, someone has to step up and someone has to do the job.”
“We miss a lot because he’s experienced and organizes the defense very well,” Cabrera said. “But this is soccer and we have a roster of 20-something players, and someone has to be ready to step up and do the job.”
It is safe to say that the concussion protocol in MLS may become a trend-setter for the rest of world football (much like the infamous foam spray used by referees in the World Cup & now in the EPL). The World Cup showcased just how out-of-touch the rest of the footballing world is with treating concussions – as players were allowed to carry on playing even after being knocked out cold. Team doctors were helpless because there was no set protocol to follow.
Bocanegra’s former teammate with the US national team, Taylor Twellman, saw his career end due to multiple concussions. It is likely that Bocanegra did not realize that he had suffered a concussion until symptoms crept up in the days following the match.
Having a protocol in place means that the player & Chivas’ management have no control over when Bocanegra returns. It is decided solely by the medical staff.
Cabrera explained, “We’re happy about the progress (he has made), but he needs to take the necessary time. We don’t want to push him in any aspect.”
“The most important thing in these cases is the person’s health. That’s what we always think about.”
Bocanegra has made 18 appearances so far this season – only missing one match prior to the concussion. He made 39 appearances for Rangers in all competitions in his short time with the club & was the Rangers’ captain when it began their season in Division Three – before he left to Spain on loan.