‘It Breaks My Heart’ – Morelli Sidelined As Wanderers Make Playoff Push
It sounds like Halifax Wanderers star midfielder Joao Morelli might miss the closing stanza of the season following an injury aggravation that forced him out of last week’s home match against Cavalry FC.
The 27-year-old was taken off in the 38th minute to end what had been an explosive return for the Brazilian playmaker, who contributed four goals in nine appearances after being cleared to play in June.
“We’re trying to find out more and more. I think his return will be a bit longer. Until we know more, we’ll continue to support him however we can. He’s certainly a big miss,” Wanderers head coach Patrice Gheisar told media on Friday.
The creative attacker had returned to match fitness after a cruciate ligament injury stopped his 2022 CPL season in its tracks, with Joao then heading back to his native Brazil for surgical treatment and a recovery process that kept him out of the game for over a year. It was a long battle back to fitness for the CPL MVP award winner, who had had procured an amazing 20 goals in 34 appearances before the injury.
Gheisar reflected that losing Joao again after those injury struggles seemed to be in the rearview mirror was a tough pill to swallow.
“He just did so much to get back to playing football, so it breaks my heart to see that he couldn’t finish the season.”
While an official timeline is unclear, the gaffer’s words make it sound like Joao won’t be returning for the remainder of the regular season. The Halifax Wanderers are embroiled in a tight race to lock in one of the final four playoff spots with a crucial tilt against Atletico Ottawa now set for Monday following a hurricane delay.
The club sits in the fifth, which is the final playoff position – but there’s not much to separate the second to sixth places.
“Everything happens for a reason, so hopefully he returns stronger and better than ever. I can’t really comment on that and I won’t go further – we’ll take it one day at a time,” concluded Gheisar, who has instilled a teamwork-intensive attacking mentality that has seen goal contributions from ten other squad members.
Amazingly, centre-back Dan Nimick is the club’s top goalscorer with five to his name (and it should be six). Having flourished at the CPL level, it looks like the club will simply try to enjoy his influence before he moves on to a higher level.
The month of September will see matches against Atletico Ottawa, Vancouver FC, and Forge FC before a final away trip away to Valour closes out Halifax’s regular season. Should the club crack a playoff spot, it remains to be seen if Joao Morelli will be able to play a hand in a postseason push.