Earthquakes defender Todd Dunivant made his return to the practice field on Wednesday, participating in almost all of the drills and showing no signs of the left quadriceps strain that had kept him sidelined the entire season.
"I felt pretty good out there," Dunivant said. "I am just taking it day-by-day."
As a rookie in 2003, Dunivant played in all 30 regular season games and tied an Earthquakes rookie record for points. With the Earthquakes currently missing three defenders, his return comes at a crucial time for the club.
"It is good to see Todd playing again," Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We don't want to rush him along, but having another healthy body back there is a big help for us."
Ekelund Back On The Field
Earthquakes midfielder Ronnie Ekelund also practiced with the team for the first time since he was hospitalized for a neck infection two weeks ago. Ekelund was in the hospital for three days and was forced to miss the Quakes victory over Los Angeles on May 22 and loss to Columbus on May 29.
"I need to get back in game shape, definitely," Ekelund said after rejoining the team. "I feel fine and I think I will be ready to get back and help the team soon."
The Earthquakes welcomed Pleasanton, Calif. native Adam Sloustcher to training camp on Wednesday. The 16-year old Ballistic United player is also a member of the United States Under-17 National Team player pool. Sloustcher appeared in nine games with the Under-17's in 2004 at forward, scoring one goal and registering two assists.
Chris Brown continued to sit out practice while recovering from a left ankle sprain suffered on May 15 in Dallas, while Troy Dayak also did not practice with the team due to an upper back strain. After playing 75 minutes on May 29 against Columbus, Ian Russell participated in a light practice due to a strained groin. Jamil Walker sat out the final few minutes of the day's final scrimmage with an injured ankle.
Catching Up With Earthquakes Goalkeeper Jon Conway
This Saturday you will be playing against your former head coach Frank Yallop. How do you feel about facing the coach who brought you and the Earthquakes so much success over the last three seasons?
Jon Conway: "I think it will just be fun. It'll be good to see Frank again. I haven't seen him in awhile and it should be exciting, a good time to see people, catch up, that sort of thing."
Against Canada, Quakes teammate Pat Onstad will be in the goal for the other team. How do you feel about going head to head with your training partner and teammate?
JC: "No different than any day in practice, really. We go head to head every day in scrimmages and during practice so it's no different, just that we will be wearing different uniforms and it will be more of a real match."
You will be defending against your teammate, forward Dwayne De Rosario when plays for the Canadian National team on Saturday. What are your thoughts on facing players who are normally on your side?
JC: "Dwayne's a good player. I obviously know his tendencies, so it will make it a little bit easier for me to anticipate his actions on the field. But it's no different than in practice every day, so it'll be fun."
Since you started the match against Columbus last weekend, Saturday's game will be your second start in a row in goal. Now that you are seeing more consistent playing time, are you feeling more comfortable and sharp in the goal?
JC: "I feel like I've been sharp now since the end of last year, and I'm just keeping the trend going if I can. I feel like I've been pretty solid and I keep improving on what I need to in order to stay sharp."
Canada's team pools together all of the best soccer players from one country. Is it a huge challenge to play against a national team rather than an MLS squad?
JC: "Obviously when you scrimmage or play a match against a national team the players are going to be at a higher level. We're hoping just to go out and play well, to put on a good show and hopefully get a result."