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Injury Bug Hits Struggling Rhinos as Two Starters Undergo Surgery

After a disappointing start to the 2013 season, several injuries will make the campaign even harder. However, J.C. Banks could return against Wilmington.

The 0-5-1 Rochester Rhinos just can't catch a break. Not the kind they want, anyway.

The headline-grabbing moment in last weekend's Rhinos game was starting forward Matt Luzunaris breaking his leg in a collision with Harrisburg's goalkeeper. Bilal Duckett sat out that game with a foot injury picked up against the Portland Timbers, and Lucas Fernandez pulled his groin in training. Another player collision may have initiated the onset of Compartment Syndrome in Michael Tanke.

If you were left scratching your head about that last one, you're not alone. When Tanke first announced the diagnosis on Twitter, I didn't realize it was a medical condition. After a peek at the Wikipedia article and a quick glance at google image results, I immediately wished I was still in blissful ignorance. Basically pressure builds up within a limb which prevents proper blood flow through that part of the body. Surgery requires opening up the entire affected area and Tanke tweeted the following picture of his bandaged leg after surgery.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Surgery no. 2 successfully in the books. Imagine how big the incision is underneath this thing. <a href="">#FrankenLeg</a> <a href="" title=""></a></p>&mdash; Michael Tanke (@Michael_Tanke) <a href="">May 8, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Luzunaris, who could be described as a consummate professional, also had successful surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester in the past week. The former Orlando City forward has expressed the frustration and dedication fans want to see from their players. Even without production on the field, Luzunaris is the type of player anyone would want on their team, and his horrific leg injury is truly a huge loss for the Rhinos.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Blank stare and a blank tongue. What a disappointing first 5 games it's beento say the least. Apologies to all @<a href="">rochesterrhinos</a> fans.</p>&mdash; Matt Luzunaris (@MattLuzu12) <a href="">April 28, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Always be dedicated and passionate to the colors your represent! @<a href="">rochesterrhinos</a> <a href="">#gametime</a> @ Sahlen's… <a href="" title=""></a></p>&mdash; Matt Luzunaris (@MattLuzu12) <a href="">May 4, 2013</a></blockquote>

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With both players out for a significant amount of time, the injury bug seems to have hit the Rhinos hard. There is a silver lining in this story, however. 2012 team MVP and my personal favorite player J.C. Banks has been medically cleared to join the team's 18-man squad on the trip to Wilmington for the match on Friday. Banks is a natural winger who scored five goals and assisted eight others last season, good enough to be the league's assist leader. Though Banks is far from match-fit, once he gets fully healthy he could propel the Rhinos forward.

Head coach Jesse Myers seemed to echo my argument from last week in a press release sent out on Thursday. "There's no question we have a talented roster. We have to execute at a higher level to get three points." With that statement in mind, Myers said that despite the serious injuries to Tanke and Luzunaris he won't be looking to add any players to the roster. Matt Horth and Blake Brettschneider now have an opportunity to compete for the starting spot at center forward while Ross LaBauex and Lance Rozeboom will assume the defensive midfield responsibilities vacated by Tanke.