FC Dallas center back Duilio Davino returned to the training field Thursday for a full session with his teammates for the first time since mid-March.
Sidelined since suffering a deep bone bruise during the club's preseason trip to Brazil, Davino last saw preseason action on March 3, when he played 75 minutes against Brazilian side Malucelli. But in training on Thursday, Davino's knee no longer appearead to be an issue, which means he could be available for Sunday's season opener with Chivas USA.
"Right now, I don't have any pain and that's what gives me confidence," Davino said after training. "Right now, I feel ready to play. If Coach selects me, then I will be ready."
As expected, FCD head coach Steve Morrow saw some rust in Davino but admits that he does remain in contention to play on Sunday.
"It was what you'd expect in the first day back in training," Morrow said. "He's been working hard on his fitness the last two days and this is the first day he's come back into training with the ball. He's a little bit rusty with having missed a couple weeks of practice and we'll see how he goes in the next few days of practice. When it comes to the opening game, we'll make a decision as late as we can."
FCD signed the 31-year-old Davino in January after an 11-year run with Mexican side Club America. During his time with the Aguilas, Davino served as captain. He also has experience with the Mexican national team, having played for El Tri in the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics and 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Morrow has yet to name a captain for the Hoops but many think that because of his experience, Davino is the likely choice. But he's not so sure.
"Right now, I don't know," Davino said. "Bobby (Rhine) is the player here who has the most experience on the team. I feel comfortable being a leader on the field whether it's as captain or not. It would be nice but Bobby has played here for a lot of years and I respect that."
Even though he has only been with FCD for a few months, Davino admits that he hasn't seen any major differences between playing in Mexico compared to MLS.
"Right now, I haven't seen too many differences," he said. "I've had many coaches and if you put Steve (Morrow) in the middle of the coaches I had with Club America, it would be the same thing with training and the way that you go about stuff."
But one adjustment he is currently making is learning English, something he calls a work in progress. "It's coming along OK but I need another three months," Davino said. "I am taking classes though."
Even in his short time with FCD, Morrow has already seen Davino make big strides in terms of his English.
"It's been good," Morrow said. "He's experienced, knows the game well and is trying to pick up English as he goes along. That's not ideal right now that he's not fluent in English but he's learning fast. He knows all the main things and most important things to say and is picking up important phrases as he goes along so that he can communicate when he needs to.
"We've had some guys in the back who know some Spanish as well and that goes both ways. The communication will get better during the season. He's such an experienced player that he knows where to be at the right time. His priority is to learn English and he wants to do that. He's done a great job of it so far."
However, any language barrier between Davino and the rest of the FCD defenders hasn't precluded him from imparting some of his experience on his younger teammates.
"When I'm on the field, I want to be able to use my experience to show guys where to be," Davino said. "Luckily for me, I've been able to pick up key words in English that have allowed me to be able to convey that to the guys on the field."
Davino also likes how his new teammates have accepted him and said that his integration into the squad has gone very well.
"They have treated me very well," he said. "Preseason in Brazil helped me a lot to be able to adapt a lot faster and to get involved with the guys. That has helped me to get to know them better."
And when asked if he is ready to make his MLS debut on Sunday, Davino offered a simple yet straightforward response.
"Yes, I feel good," he said. "I need to get more comfortable with the rhythm of the game but the only way you can do that is by playing. Yes, I want to play."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.