HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo could see the long-awaited return of Calen Carr and another positive step for fellow forward Omar Cummings on Wednesday night in a CONCACAF Champions League match against W Connection, but only if the right situation arises.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear said this week that he won’t use both players on the field just to get them minutes as they recover from their respective injuries, even if the Dynamo are heavy favorites over their Trinidadian foes at BBVA Compass Stadium (8 pm ET, Fox Sports 2).
“You’re in this to win this game, not just share minutes around,” Kinnear said. “This is an important game. If we win this game, we’re in the driver’s seat. You can’t just throw them out there; you’ve got to make sure they're healthy. We have to have some good conversations before [Wednesday].”
The Dynamo currently sit in second place in Group 1, two points back of Panamanian side Árabe Unido. But a win against W Connection – who are winless in three games so far in the tournament – would push Houston into first place with just one game left, Oct. 24 in Panama.
Both Carr and Cummings said this week they have no interest in making a misstep at this point in their recovery or returning too soon, and there have been enough recent setbacks for both players to be wary. Carr – who suffered a torn ACL shortly after scoring the opening goal of the MLS Cup last December – missed training just last week due to a minor setback with his knee before returning this week.
“I had a little reaction in my knee that was bothering me, so we decided to be cautious and step back a little bit,” said Carr, who scored four goals in 26 regular-season appearances last year. “It’s never great to have a start-stop thing, but I think we’ll have a good conversation about what my involvement for tomorrow will possibly be. Always, as a player, you’d like to get a chance.”
Cummings is further along and looking for a stiffer test. After battling multiple knee injuries this season, he’s made back-to-back successful reserve appearances and shown the pace and ability to stretch the defense Kinnear expected when the club traded for him from Colorado last December.
“It’s different in the mindset, I think, knowing you’re going to start or get more minutes than you usually do,” said Cummings, who has yet to score a goal in eight appearances this season. “I’ll put pressure on myself, need to do well and get in position to score goals.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.