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Battle for midfield spots on the Houston Dynamo wide open with Warren Creavalle still on the mend

Warren Creavalle

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USA Today Sports

HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo are still trying to shake off some lingering injuries from 2013, and a big part of a group of starters working their way back from knocks is starting central midfielder Warren Creavalle

The 23-year-old had offseason surgery to address tendonitis in both knees, and when the Dynamo began preseason camp, head coach Dominic Kinnear said he believed he would have his active midfielder for opening day against the New England Revolution.

But with three weeks until opening day, the outlook for Creavalle is up in the air.

“He’s questionable right now,” Kinnear said about the player’s availability for the season opener. “He started on the field [Wednesday] and two days ago started jogging, so we’re doing more with him which is encouraging. Hopefully we’ll see him on the field soon.”

Creavalle started 17 games in 2013, including the final 10 of the regular season, before starting all five of the club’s playoff games. He was expected to pick up where he left off.

Kinnear did not rule Creavalle out completely, but preseason has given the club a chance to get a look at several options in the middle. Included in that group are Alexander Lopez and Servando Carrasco, who have both had good moments in preseason action.

Another possibility could be to deploy Tony Cascio, who the club acquired on loan this offseason and has scored three goals so far, on the right and move Boniek Garcia into the middle. Houston has tried that formation at times this preseason with success.

As Creavalle works back from injury, Houston has several other starters further along in their rehabilitation process. One of those players is right back Kofi Sarkodie, who returned to action recently after coming back from a right foot strain that plagued him throughout last season’s playoffs.

“He just couldn’t shake it,” Kinnear said of Sarkodie’s injury, one that has caused the team to play it safe with him early. “Preseason’s for getting ready, not for getting hurt. We want to make sure before he stepped on the field he’s in a good spot.

“He didn’t do much over the offseason, but when he came back it was still bugging him,” Kinnear continued. “He took care of himself, so when he stepped on the field he hasn’t looked completely out of character.”

Sarkodie played 17 minutes against FC Tucson on Monday and another 38 against Houston Baptist University on Wednesday night, notching two assists against the NCAA program.

Also back on the training field Thursday was starting center back Jermaine Taylor – who has yet to play a game in preseason as he comes back from offseason surgery – and midfielder Andrew Driver, who is working back from a calf injury he picked up against the Colorado Rapids in the second game of preseason.

“You don’t like to see them anywhere but on the field, whether it’s jogging, possession or doing a little bit of ball work,” Kinnear said. “I’m sure they’ll tell you the same thing; they don’t like being indoors on treadmills and bikes and stuff like that. They want to be outside with their teammates on the ball.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.