HOUSTON – At this time of the season it is expected that teams are battling injuries, both large and small. But a small bit of relief is here for the Houston Dynamo.
As a result of Wednesday’s second leg of the D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls Eastern Conference semifinal being postponed due to a winter storm, Houston have an extra day of rest and preparation for Sunday's Eastern Conference Championship first leg against the capital club (4 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“The way we’ve had games every three days, it’s been hard and tough to recover,” Brad Davis told reporters on Friday. “I think that kind of played a role in our last game. You could see some tired legs, some tired minds but we worked through it. So the extra day I don’t think anybody’s bothered by it. It gives us an extra day to get some rest and be ready.”
One player looking to take full advantage of the added rest is Jermaine Taylor, who went through an agonizing match Wednesday night. It was not just because of his injured left knee but also the fact that he was forced to sit and watch his teammates battled for their playoff lives.
The Jamaican international was back on the training pitch when the Dynamo started preparations for their pending Eastern Conference final matchup with D.C. United, though. With the first leg Sunday, Taylor is hoping his time in Kansas City was his last experience as a spectator.
“Actually it is tough,” Taylor, who said an MRI showed no major damage to his knee, told the media. “This part of the year is something you don’t want to happen to you. Injuries are something that occur and happen in the game so yeah it’s tough but mentally you have to push yourself and say ‘If I miss one game I can’t miss two.’
“A good defensive team can win a championship and that’s working out this year,” Taylor continued. “So hopefully I’ll see what it is come Sunday, if I can be in the starting lineup or be available on the bench.”
While Taylor was back at training Houston’s other injured starter, Calen Carr, was MIA. The forward strained his hamstring in Wednesday’s decisive match against Sporting Kansas City, leaving in the 33rd minute and was not involved Friday.
Carr and Taylor are part of a club that is managing fitness in the middle of a congested stretch that has started six weeks ago and will prompt soul searching.
“One thing you always want is to have honest conversations and that the guys are ready to play,” head coach Dominic Kinnear remarked. “There’s a couple more guys here who’ve played a ton of minutes in a short period of time that we’re gonna have to sit down with because the most important thing is to put the freshest team on the field that you can.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.