HOUSTON – When Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear was asked about the health of his team at Thursday’s training session, he did his best not to jinx his team.
It’s been that kind of year for the Dynamo, but Kinnear’s answer also shows that they could finally be out of the woods heading into Saturday's road matchup against Toronto FC (7 pm ET; MLS Live).
Kinnear had a full complement of players, including key defenders Corey Ashe, Jermaine Taylor and David Horst, on the field. If things progress positively, the Dynamo defense could be together again and looking to get back on the same page.
“During the season when you have the absences we’ve had it kind of gets away from it,” Kinnear said when asked about the defensive cohesion. “Hopefully that understanding comes back very quickly. You want to be able to pick from [a full squad]. Your trainings are better because everybody’s healthy, your 11’s better and your 18 can be better.”
The happy news comes a week after the trio missed Friday’s 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls due to various injuries.
Horst was on the bench as what Kinnear called an emergency sub but was not ready to go after trying to return for a second straight game from a groin injury. His center back partner Taylor was out due to what the club called a hip contusion. Ashe was out due to a knee effusion.
All three took part in the entirety of Thursday’s session and looked no worse for wear. Horst remained steadfast that his availability was up to Kinnear and the medical staff, while Taylor said he is optimistic about the weekend.
“I think I’m fully fit and ready to go; it’s just all up to Dom on whether he’s going to play me,” Taylor said. “When you’ve got players out and injured and you’ve got to mix and match and shuffle guys around that’s where things go wrong. We just need to get back to basics. … I just can’t wait to get back with David and Corey and see what happens come Saturday.”
Having Taylor and the group back could provide a boost to a backline in sore need of it. As the club has struggled to put players on the field consistently, it’s also failed to keep goals off the board with 15 goals allowed in six games.
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The nightmare stretch has been aided by the mixing and matching Kinnear’s been forced to do in the trio’s absence. If they can continue to progress and get back on the field, the group could start to work on rekindling some much needed chemistry on the defensive side of the ball.
“Cohesion makes a big difference,” Horst said. “When you have four guys that are playing together consistently then you know where each other is going to be on the field and you know what each other are going to do. It’s been a lot of different things this year that’s not going well. Once we get this back four together and locked down, you’ll see a big shift in results for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.