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Chicago Fire right back Matt Polster to miss 4-5 months with MCL tear

Chicago Fire defender Matt Polster (2) controls the ball against Sporting Kansas City forward Khiry Shelton (14) during the first half at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunović broke the news that Matt Polster suffered a setback in his recovery from a sprained right MCL after training on Wednesday, the club gave further details  Thursday on the injury and how much time he will miss.

The Fire announced Polster had surgery to repair a torn MCL Thursday morning and will miss 4-5 months. He suffered the injury in training on Sunday, May 13.

Polster has been out since playing in the season opener on March 10. The initial injury occurred on March 16 and he was expected to be out 5-6 weeks. That six-week window passed at the end of April.

Polster appeared to be nearing his return by returning to training activities. Now he could struggle to return before the end of the 2018 season.

“What I like to hear from him is that he said ‘Listen coach, I know it’s tough, but the only thing I’m thinking is to return as soon as possible,'” Paunović said of Polster on Wednesday.

Polster missed 12 games in 2017 with a left knee injury suffered in the season finale in 2016. It’s his right knee this time around.

The 24-year-old had a breakout season in 2017 by moving to right back from a defensive midfield role. Polster’s energy and aggressiveness at the position were a good fit for Paunović’s style even if Polster was learning the position on the fly.

His improved play earned him his first cap for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Polster started in a scoreless draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28. His national team prospects will likely take a hit while he recovers from this injury and will have to prove himself all over again.

For the Fire, Polster’s absence is no small loss. Last year, the Fire were 13-5-4 when he played and 3-6-3 without him.

Kevin Ellis and Rafael Ramos will be asked to shoulder the right back load for much longer now. Ellis has been starting at that spot recently. Ramos, acquired from Orlando in a trade in the offseason, has only made one appearance this season.

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