Ching returns, but Dynamo are tested for depth
HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo are ready to welcome back club scoring leader Brian Ching from injury in the wake of trading forward Dominic Oduro to Chicago on Wednesday.
However, they'll also be without opening-day starting center back Jermaine Taylor (pictured above) for Friday's trip to Seattle to face the Sounders (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
Taylor is away with the Jamaican national team as it prepares for two international friendlies — one at home against Venezuela on March 25 and another away to El Salvador on March 27.
The Dynamo will have to deal with the first of what will likely be multiple absences for Taylor this season as Jamaica will play in this summer’s Gold Cup.
Expecting these absences, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear spent much of the preseason building depth up and down the roster and said he is comfortable with his options in the back.
[inline_node:331817]“We have André [Hainault], Eddie [Robinson] and Bobby [Boswell] there for this weekend,” Kinnear said after Wednesday’s training. “André played out wide against Philadelphia, but we know he can play in the middle so we’ll look at the situation and go from there.”
The commitment to building depth in the preseason has players across the back line comfortable with each other and ready to contribute when called upon.
“During the preseason I played center back and there were a lot of guys that played there,” Hainault said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can play well there so I don’t think we’re too out of shape with Jermaine off with his national team.”
If Hainault is the choice to move into the middle, it would mean a change at starting fullback. If that’s the case, veteran Mike Chabala could slide into Hainault’s left back position or rookie Kofi Sarkodie could get the start at right back with Hunter Freeman switching to the left.
The forward line could also see changes with Oduro being traded to Chicago and Ching ready to return.
Ching, who sat out the season opener with a hamstring strain, returned to full training Monday and again Wednesday. The US international went through individual finishing drills and a scrimmage yesterday and showed no sign of the lingering hamstring injury.
With Oduro gone, Ching’s return provides reinforcements to the forward corps but questions remain about how he will be used. Fitness is still an issue and whether he plays 30, 45 or the full 90 minutes, the key for Ching and the Dynamo is to not rush him back before he’s fully healthy.
“My hamstring feels great so I’m coming along fine,” Ching said after Wednesday’s training. “My fitness isn’t there yet, but despite that I’m ready to play this weekend.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.