Injury-plagued McTavish returns to reserves for DC

Devon McTavish, D.C. United

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WASHINGTON — It’s been a tough year for one of D.C. United’s longest-tenured players.

Defender Devon McTavish hasn’t played a minute this year in league play, and until Sunday’s reserve game, hadn’t stepped on the field for a competitive match for almost all of 2011.

But in the 2-1 reserve win against Toronto over the weekend, McTavish started and played 45 minutes in central defense, his first action since February.

“It was good to be back out there playing, there’s no doubt about that,” McTavish said. “I had a smile on my face all Sunday afternoon. I still have a lot of work to do, trying to catch up on five months of sitting on the couch.”

Even after his extended time off, his play drew positive remarks from the coaching staff.

“I thought for how long he’s been out and how quickly he’s gotten back into things, [for him] to be able to get through a half, I thought he played very, very well,” assistant coach Chad Ashton said. “He’s just going to take a little more time with cleaning things up.”

Originally injured in a preseason friendly, McTavish had been addled with concussion symptoms up until the last few weeks.

He returned to training alongside Santino Quaranta early last week and is now working on his fitness and sharpness. Quaranta returned to the starting lineup for the first team on Saturday, however McTavish hasn’t set a specific timetable for his own return.

“I’m just taking it day by day,” McTavish said. “Try to do a little more work every day and … get comfortable with the game again.”

Getting through Sunday’s game was a good first step towards making his return to the first team, and while he hasn’t set that specific return date, he doesn’t think it’ll be too long before he is back to full strength.

“I don’t think I’m too far off,” he added. “Maybe a couple of weeks at worst.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.