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Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic undergo successful sports hernia surgeries

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They are anticipated to return in six weeks.

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Portland Timbers announced today that defenders Larrys Mabiala and Dario Zuparic have undergone successful athletic pubalgia surgeries to repair sports hernias. Both defenders will be out for the preseason and are expected to return in six weeks.

The two center backs appear to have been carrying their injuries for different lengths of time. Zuparic reportedly developed the hernia last season and it was subsequently managed during the team’s playoff run. His symptoms did not resolve over the offseason, according to the press release and so the player and club opted for surgery to facilitate an earlier return to the field.

Mabiala started showing signs of injury earlier this week, according to the team, and both parties also opted for surgery so that the player could return to the field earlier in the season.

It is unknown if the team expects both players to be game fit by the end of six weeks or if that is a target for the players to return to training.

What is known is that both players will miss the majority, if not the entirety, of Portland’s preseason preparations. They will also presumably be unavailable for Portland’s 2022 opener on February 26 against defending Supporter’s Shield winners, the New England Revolution.

For the first part of the preseason, that leaves the roster pretty bare at the center back position. The only two non-injured central defenders on the roster are Bill Tuiloma and third-year player Zac McGraw. And with Tuiloma getting a call-up for the New Zealand men’s national team for the upcoming international window, that leaves McGraw as the sole rostered center back for the next few weeks.

We can anticipate trialists, academy players, and potentially third-round SuperDraft pick Sivert Haugli to spend time next to McGraw during Portland’s preseason matches in Arizona against the Seattle Sounders on January 26 and potentially Sporting Kansas City on February 3.

New Zealand’s last match this window is on February 2, so Tuiloma will be back with the team in time for the final weeks of preseason preparations. He will be one of the favorites to start in central defense in the opener at the end of February.

With Mabiala and Zuparic recovering, Portland will be ramping up their preseason training without their first choice center back pairing. And as the team seeks to build back line chemistry, break in a new starting goalkeeper, and potentially start a new right back, it presents one of the first challenges of the new year for the Timbers.

You can read the team’s full press release here.