Sporting KC

Sporting KC top scorer Felipe Gutierrez undergoes surgery for sports hernia

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Gutierrez celebrates after scoring the opening (and only) goal during a home match against DC United last month.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Gutierrez celebrates after scoring the opening (and only) goal during a home match against DC United last month. Special to the Star

The revival of Sporting Kansas City’s offense coincided with the breakthrough of newcomer Felipe Gutierrez, whose five-goal output in March sent the club to the top of the Western Conference.

The bid to stay there will come without him.

Gutierrez, 27, underwent surgery in California on Tuesday morning to correct a sports hernia, a source told The Star. He is expected to miss the next 2-3 months, the source said.

The injury, originally believed to be inflammation in a bone near his hip, has held Gutierrez out of the starting lineup in four consecutive matches. Sporting KC is 2-1-1 in those games. He subbed into a match on April 20, playing the final 14 matches and attempting a pair of shots. But the injury did not respond well over the course of the ensuing week, and he did not make the trip to New England over the weekend.

Gutierrez, 27, was named the MLS player of the month in March, his debut month in the league. He scored five goals in a four-game span. He was subbed out of a March 31 match after suffering the injury against D.C. United, a game Sporting KC won 1-0, with Gutierrez as the lone goal scorer. The removal was initially considered precautionary, and Gutierrez was prescribed rest.

From his attacking midfielder position, he had been the focal point of Sporting KC’s offense in the first month, unleashing 17 shots and placing 10 of them on goal. He was the first goal scorer of the season in the second week in Chicago, a match in which he also provided the game-winner in the 86th minute.

Sporting KC acquired Gutierrez as a designated-player signing in February, late in the preseason. He is a Chilean native who has appeared in 35 matches for the Chile men’s national team, including the 2014 World Cup.

Although player salaries have not yet been released for the 2018 season, a source told The Star that Gutierrez is Sporting Kansas City’s highest-paid player over the length of his contract, which runs through 2020 with a club option for 2021.

In his absence, Yohan Croizet, another designated player, has reverted to his natural position in the midfield. Croizet has one goal and one assist in nine games, six of them in a starting role.

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