Atlanta United loses Ronald Hernández (knee) for 3-4 months

·2 min read

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta United defender Ronald Hernández will miss three to four months after injuring a knee ligament in a 2-1 loss to Columbus, the latest in a string of major injuries for the struggling team.

United announced Hernández's status on Tuesday, saying it also will prevent him from being called up to the Venezuelan national team for international matches.

Hernández went down in Saturday's game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium while starting in place of injured Andrew Gutman.

Shortly after the kickoff, Hernández collided with United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and dropped to the turf clutching his right leg.

Hernández tried to stay in the game but had to come off in the sixth minute with what Atlanta coach Gonzalo Pineda described as a “pretty swollen” knee. It was diagnosed as an injury to the medial collateral ligament, though the team provided no additional details.

Two of Atlanta’s most prominent players, goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Miles Robinson, both suffered season-ending Achilles injuries on noncontact plays at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Robinson’s injury will also likely cost him a spot on the U.S. roster for the World Cup in December.

Those injuries raised questions about the FieldTurf artificial turf at Atlanta's stadium, though the team says there is nothing to indicate it is to blame.

United has played games on the surface since moving into the retractable-roof facility, also home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, midway through its inaugural season in 2017.

The stadium near downtown Atlanta is expected to be selected as one of the hosts for the 2026 World Cup, though a natural-grass surface will be put down for that competition.

Gutman injured his left quadriceps tendon in a 2-2 draw at Nashville on May 21. He is expected to miss two to three months.

Atlanta also lost midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (right ACL) and third-string keeper Dylan Castanheira (left Achilles) to season-ending injuries.

In addition, star forward Josef Martinez returned to the lineup this past weekend, coming on in the second half of his first game since undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery on April 6.

While recovering, Martinez missed seven league matches for United, which has only one win in its last eight games and has dropped to 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

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More AP MLS: https://apnews.com/hub/major-league-soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Paul Newberry, The Associated Press

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