Chivas USA hope O'Brien gets call

When John O'Brien joined Chivas USA at the beginning of April, the former Ajax standout had the opportunity to train and get himself fit in hopes of making the United States World Cup squad.

But one month after joining the Red-and-White, O'Brien has played just six
minutes over three league matches. Saturday, the midfielder was not
available due to a calf strain that kept him from training at all with the
team during the preceding week.

Still, Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley said he expects O'Brien to be with the
United States national team when it breaks camp on May 10 in Cary, N.C. U.S. head coach Bruce Arena will announce the group on Tuesday.

"I'm assuming he'll be down in Cary but then it's going to be up to him that
all this work that has gone in thus far is going to mean that by the time he
gets there he will be ready to go at it every day," Bradley said. "Bruce has
been pretty clear about that."

O'Brien played in two Chivas USA friendlies against collegiate teams
during their bye week. In the first, O'Brien played 85 minutes against San
Diego State on April 19 and the full 90 minutes against Cal three days
later.

But O'Brien came out of the four-day stretch with a strained calf. A week of
rehabilitation was not enough to recover and O'Brien did not dress in
Saturday's game against New York.

"In terms of getting him back, it was slower than we all hoped," Bradley
said after Saturday's scoreless draw with the New York Red Bulls. "This past week was
disappointing for him and disappointing for us because we were all hopeful
to have him on the field."

O'Brien said recently that he was happy to be training with Chivas USA and
was certainly eyeing a World Cup spot.

"Hopefully my level will improve so I can be of some worth to the national
team coach," he said.

Now, O'Brien's calf injury adds to the growing list of injuries that have
kept the Southern California native off the soccer field and in a trainer's
room more often than not over the last three years. When he joined Chivas
USA, O'Brien was trying to overcome a groin injury. O'Brien hurt his calf
during one of the recent scrimmages, Bradley said.

As it has in the past, the onus will fall on O'Brien to show whether or not
he can remain fit and healthy and able to contribute to the national team.

"Bruce has communicated very clearly with him," Bradley said. "He knows it's
imperative that he moves himself along."

In the end, Bradley said O'Brien is capable of being healthy and match-fit
in time for the World Cup in June.

"I still think it will happen," Bradley said. "I think this was a little
setback but there's no reason why he can't push himself forward."

Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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