After three straight wins in the league, Vitesse was brought back down to earth by a sobering 1-0 loss to Excelsior. It was a defeat De Gelderlander labeled "humiliating": a Dutch Cup finalist with ambitions of playing European competition next season, beaten by a team trying to stay clear of relegation.
Vitesse head coach Henk Fraser lamented that his side "had no chance", and appeared so out-matched he asked his players if he'd overlooked something tactically that might explain the lackluster showing. (They told him he had not.)
Worse than the loss, perhaps, for Vitesse: a last-minute yellow card means Ricky van Wolfswinkel will be suspended for the team's next game, against title-chasing Feyenoord. And center-back Matt Miazga was forced to leave the match in the 27th minute - with what De Gelderlander surmised was a hamstring injury.
Miazga's injury is potentially more upsetting than van Wolfswinkel's suspension. Vitesse is still fifth in Eredivisie after losing to Excelsior, still a favorite for a spot in the end-of-season playoffs for Europa League qualification. But it is already without senior center back Maikel van der Werff, who was recently declared to have suffered a setback in his recovery from injury. Van der Werff is now considered unlikely to make it back to fitness in time to play in the KNVB Cup final on April 30. His replacement in the lineup has been Miazga, whose injury status now becomes a significant concern for Vitesse.
The Vitesse squad could start to look a little thin if two potential starting center-backs are out for the Cup final. And it will, of course, be a personal disappointment for Miazga if he is forced to sit out the biggest game of his club's season.
The young American defender doubtless already knows whether he has a shot at being fit for the KNVB Cup final against AZ. The rest of us will have to wait until Vitesse releases an update on his injury.