HOUSTON – The days of depleted numbers may finally be coming to an end for the Houston Dynamo.
As the club prepared Friday to return to MLS play with a trip to face the Montreal Impact on Sunday (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live), they had what must have felt like a crowded group, as several players coming off of or battling injuries were on the training field.
Included in that group were Ricardo Clark, who MLSsoccer.com reported earlier this week returned from a concussion, Corey Ashe (MCL) and David Horst (groin). Also involved were US Open Cup injury casualties Will Bruin (right hip pointer) and Alexander Lopez (left hip pointer).
Having a full crew at training has the club finally feeling like its old self ahead of a rematch of last year's Knockout Round game against the Impact.
“There’s going to be more guys travel, which is good to see, and more guys on the bench than normal, and we’ll see what names we put there,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “A lot of guys are traveling with the hope they’ll be available for Sunday.
"It’s not going to be an overnight fix to have these guys, because they have to work their way in, but to see their presence on the field is a positive.”
The returnees will each be evaluated to gauge if they can play Sunday, but one very important name could be added to the group, as Kinnear is hopeful that Boniek Garcia will rejoin the club in Montreal now that Honduras’ World Cup run is over.
“We’ve been in contact with him and are hoping he’ll meet us in Montreal, and what part he plays, we’ll take it from there,” Kinnear said. “We have to see how he feels physically.”
Two players, Clark and Bruin, stand out when it comes to availability. Clark is a question considering his return from a concussion that cost him nine games is still ongoing, and Kinnear told media that Bruin’s injury is still causing him problems at times.
“It’s one of those where he says he feels pretty good and then doesn’t feel good all in one stretch,” the Dynamo boss said.
With optimism surrounding the lineup for the first time in months, Houston are turning their attention to getting their play on track with 18 games left and ground to make up. Despite losing a fifth consecutive game against MLS opposition, the Dynamo pulled positives out of Tuesday’s overtime Open Cup loss to FC Dallas.
In addition to breaking a four-game scoring drought against MLS clubs, Kinnear cited the team's attitude for the 120 minutes as something to build on while also warning against continued giveaways, which would be an especially dangerous problem against Marco Di Vaio and the Impact.
The fact that Houston is traveling in force for the first time in recent memory could be the boost the club has desperately looked for.
“It’s always refreshing to see guys come back from injury,” Ashe told the media. “We’re focusing on the next 18 games we have. What we did the first half of the season, you can’t change that. All you can do is change the approach to how we’re going to start the second half of the season.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.