Calen Carr and Andrew Driver return to full training as Houston Dynamo approach congested schedule

With 16 games in 10 weeks, the more bodies the better for the Orange

With a busy slate ahead, the Houston Dynamo got some good news Tuesday with Calen Carr and Andrew Driver taking steps towards their eventual returns.

Carr is steadily working his way back from an ACL tear suffered in last year’s MLS Cup, while Driver is recovering from tendonitis in his Achilles aggravated against the Chicago Fire three weeks ago. Both were involved in the club’s full activities on Tuesday, most notably an 11-v-11 scrimmage that had its share of intensity and physicality. The good news is that both players made it through the session without issue.

While Carr admitted that there is no set timetable for his return, the pair’s inclusion is a good sign as Houston faces 16 games in all competitions over the remaining 10 weeks of the regular season.

“We want those guys back healthy,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “With the games coming up it’s going to be interesting. We hope guys can get healthy as the weekend nears because this week’s important and the following games are as well.”

Driver’s injury derailed what was shaping up as a very good debut season in MLS. The winger came from Scottish club Hearts – where he battled knee and thigh injuries – in the winter and has played a vital role providing pace and tenacity on the wings in place of the oft-missing Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia. After the injury cost him two games, the English-born midfielder was back on the field Tuesday, stretching his legs and getting reacquainted with the Texas heat.

“No offense to the physios, but I really dislike being injured and staying in the physio room. It’s mind-numbing running around the pitch instead of being on it,” Driver said. “I’ve had tendonitis in it for a while, which I can manage. It was nothing serious.

“I’ve been playing for 14 months straight without a break and sometimes your body says let's slow down a little bit. I’m happy with how it went today and hopefully I can build on that.”

While Driver was returning to full training, Carr’s step was the latest in an ongoing recovery that started after his December 2nd injury. Tuesday’s participation in a full contact game was a big step forward as it was the first time he’d seen game action, replete with hard tackles, including an early one from Davis. The best sign of the day was that Carr popped right up and got back in the action.

“When you step into full training guys are preparing for a game so there’s no half-speed. For me that was good and I just got up as quick as I could,” said Carr. “For me it’s a good release of some pent-up frustration. It felt fun. I enjoyed being out there chasing guys down, getting some touches and getting hit a couple of times.”

Houston starts their congested stretch Saturday against the Seattle Sounders at home before traveling to Trinidad and Tobago to face W. Connection to open CONCACAF Champions League play August 20.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.