Performance and return to sport after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in male major league soccer players

Brandon J. Erickson, Joshua D. Harris, Gregory L. Cvetanovich, Bernard R. Bach, Charles A. Bush-Joseph, Geoffrey D. Abrams, Anil K. Gupta, Frank M. McCormick, Brian J. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is a significant injury in male Major League Soccer (MLS) players in the United States. Purpose: To determine (1) return-to-sport (RTS) rate in MLS following ACL reconstruction (ACLR), (2) timing of RTS, (3) performance upon RTS, and (4) the difference in RTS and performance between players who underwent ACL reconstruction (ACLR) and controls. Study Design: Case-control study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: MLS players undergoing ACLR between 1996 and 2012 were evaluated. Player data were extracted from publically available sources. All demographic data were analyzed. A control group of players matched by age, body mass index (BMI), sex, position, performance, and MLS experience (occurred at 2.6 years into career, designated ‘‘index year’’) was selected from the MLS during the same years as those undergoing ACLR. The RTS and performance in the MLS were analyzed and compared between cases and controls. Student t tests were performed for analysis of within-and between-group variables. Results: A total of 52 players (57 knees) that met inclusion criteria underwent ACLR while in the MLS. Mean player age was 25.6± 3.98 years. Forty players were able to resume play (77%). Of the 40 players (45 knees), 38 (43 knees; 95%) resumed play the season following ACLR (mean, 10±2.8 months after surgery). Mean career length in the MLS after ACLR was 4.0±2.8 years. The revision rate was 10%. There was a significant increase in the incidence of ACL tears in the MLS by year (P <.001), and there was a significantly (P =.002) greater number of ACL tears on the left knee as opposed to the right. Performance in the MLS upon RTS after ACLR was not significantly different versus preinjury. There was no significant difference in survival in the MLS between cases and controls after ACLR or index year. The only significant performance differences between cases and controls were that cases had significantly greater shots taken per season (P =.005) and assists (P =.005) than did controls after the index year. Conclusion: There is a high RTS rate in the MLS following ACLR. Nearly all players resumed play the season after surgery. Performance was not significantly different from preinjury. Only 2 performance measures (shots taken and assists) were significantly different between cases and controls. A significantly greater number of ACL tears occur in the left versus the right knee.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2325967113497189
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Anterior cruciate ligament
  • Knee
  • Major League Soccer
  • Return to sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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