The soccer universe has seen some of its biggest names fall and be ruled out of the World Cup, but news trickling out of Uruguay late Wednesday night contains perhaps the biggest blow of them all.
Uruguay and Liverpool star Luis Suarez, who scored a Premier League record-tying 31 goals this season, has reportedly had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair his meniscus after being hurt in training, and his status for the World Cup is in question. The report states that the optimistic recovery time is about three weeks, though each individual reacts differently (Uruguay opens its World Cup on June 14 against Costa Rica, 23 days from now). If that's the case, Uruguay could still have Suarez's services, but it remains to be seen how effective he would be post-operation and with no training in the weeks leading up to the World Cup.
According to the Associated Press, Suarez's mother said, ''The surgery is over and thank God everything went well. What Luis had wasn't as serious as we thought."
The Uruguay federation also released a statement, saying, ''This morning he underwent an arthroscopy to repair his meniscus ... No other injuries were found in his knee. His participation in the World Cup in Brazil is not ruled out.''
Suarez is not the only star player to undergo a procedure this close to the competition. Juventus' star Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal underwent a knee operation five weeks out from the World Cup, and he is reportedly expected to be fit in time.
Colombia striker Radamel Falcao underwent surgery for a torn ACL in January, but he was included on Los Cafeteros' preliminary World Cup roster, maintaining hopes of a shock recovery and a place on the world's stage.
Among the notable players who will miss the World Cup through injury include the Netherlands' Kevin Strootman, England's Theo Walcott and Andros Townsend, Belgium's Christian Benteke, Costa Rica's Bryan Oviedo, Chile's Matias Fernandez and Mexico's Juan Carlos Medina.
If Suarez, the reigning PFA Premier League Player of the Year, is to join that list, it would severely hamper Uruguay's chances in Brazil, though the club maintains the likes of Edinson Cavani and 2010 World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan in the attack. Uruguay is in a stacked Group D along with Italy, England and Costa Rica.
Suarez scored three goals to help Uruguay to a fourth-place finish in the 2010 World Cup, though his tournament was most remembered for a massive controversy. His intentional hand ball on the goal line in the quarterfinals against Ghana prevented Dominic Adiyiah from what would have been a game-winning goal in extra time. He was promptly sent off, Ghana's Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing spot kick and Uruguay prevailed in penalties, but the hand ball sparked a worldwide debate of Suarez's gamesmanship.
La Celeste fell to the Netherlands without the suspended Suarez in the semifinals and then lost again to Germany in the third-place match.