When John O'Brien joined Chivas USA at the beginning of April, the former Ajax standout had the opportunity to train and get himself fit in hopes of making the United States World Cup squad.
But one month after joining the Red-and-White, O'Brien has played just six minutes over three league matches. Saturday, the midfielder was not available due to a calf strain that kept him from training at all with the team during the preceding week.
Still, Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley said he expects O'Brien to be with the United States national team when it breaks camp on May 10 in Cary, N.C. U.S. head coach Bruce Arena will announce the group on Tuesday.
"I'm assuming he'll be down in Cary but then it's going to be up to him that all this work that has gone in thus far is going to mean that by the time he gets there he will be ready to go at it every day," Bradley said. "Bruce has been pretty clear about that."
O'Brien played in two Chivas USA friendlies against collegiate teams during their bye week. In the first, O'Brien played 85 minutes against San Diego State on April 19 and the full 90 minutes against Cal three days later.
But O'Brien came out of the four-day stretch with a strained calf. A week of rehabilitation was not enough to recover and O'Brien did not dress in Saturday's game against New York.
"In terms of getting him back, it was slower than we all hoped," Bradley said after Saturday's scoreless draw with the New York Red Bulls. "This past week was disappointing for him and disappointing for us because we were all hopeful to have him on the field."
O'Brien said recently that he was happy to be training with Chivas USA and was certainly eyeing a World Cup spot.
"Hopefully my level will improve so I can be of some worth to the national team coach," he said.
Now, O'Brien's calf injury adds to the growing list of injuries that have kept the Southern California native off the soccer field and in a trainer's room more often than not over the last three years. When he joined Chivas USA, O'Brien was trying to overcome a groin injury. O'Brien hurt his calf during one of the recent scrimmages, Bradley said.
As it has in the past, the onus will fall on O'Brien to show whether or not he can remain fit and healthy and able to contribute to the national team.
"Bruce has communicated very clearly with him," Bradley said. "He knows it's imperative that he moves himself along."
In the end, Bradley said O'Brien is capable of being healthy and match-fit in time for the World Cup in June.
"I still think it will happen," Bradley said. "I think this was a little setback but there's no reason why he can't push himself forward."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.