WASHINGTON — Two familiar faces returned to training for D.C. United this week, and it was a welcome sight.
Midfielder Brandon Barklage and forward Blake Brettschneider (above) were back in action on Tuesday after spending time on the sidelines recovering from concussions picked up in the past month.
“It’s good to be back out here,” Brettschneider said. “Fortunately [it’s] not as hot as it’s been the last couple of weeks, it’s a little bit nicer to come back.”
Barklage picked up his concussion back on July 3 in a Reserve League game against Philadelphia, while Brettschneider hasn’t missed as much time, getting a kick in the face by Jan Gunnar Soli against the New York Red Bulls on July 9.
Getting those two back in training was good news for head coach Ben Olsen.
“Every time one of these guys goes down with a concussion, you don’t know,” he said. “You don’t know if it’s going to be a week, be the old 10 days, or a career-ender. I’m glad our guys are getting through them and getting back on the field, because we need bodies.”
Injury issues continue to be a struggle for Barklage, who has yet to compete in a full season as a pro, suffering ACL injuries the previous two seasons before encountering this recent concussion problem.
Now healthy, Barklage will resume vying for playing time.
“It’s just about getting the fitness back,” he said. “It was a good two-and-a-half weeks off, so I need to get my touch, along with my fitness back. I’m over the injuries at this point, so hopefully from here on out till the end of the season I’ll be injury free.”
Brettschneider, who missed less time, still said that the layoff affected him despite his best efforts to do fitness work on the side.
“I found myself a little more winded than I probably normally would have been,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do fitness the last couple of days before I came back out here, and I think it’ll come back. You don’t lose too much, but at this level, even that little bit can hurt you.”
The rookie forward is hoping to return for this weekend’s trip to San Jose, but it remains in the hands of the coaching staff.
There were also positive signs from DC’s two other concussion-addled players — both Santino Quaranta and Devon McTavish were jogging on the side in training this week. McTavish hasn’t played all year after suffering a concussion in preseason, while Quaranta last played on May 14 against Colorado.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.