Before the Houston Dynamo departed for the Carolina Challenge Cup a week ago, center back Jermaine Taylor was looking to capitalize on getting his fitness and touch in line.
Now, as the club prepares for their season opener in five days against the New England Revolution (8:30 pm ET; TICKETS), it looks as if the week-long trip did the trick.
“I thought he looked good,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said about Taylor’s Charleston performance. “He’s one of those players that doesn’t look out of sorts when he doesn’t play for a while. I thought his minutes were good and I’m sure he felt good about the way he played and I think he played pretty good.”
Added goalkeeper Tally Hall: “If he felt like he needed to knock some rust off that’s obviously gone. The last week he’s been on fire and in great spots. He’s been the typical Jermaine we know and love, and he’ll continue to be that guy.”
Taylor, who is coming back from a foot injury that kept him out of the MLS Cup Playoffs, pushed himself in Charleston, going 72 minutes against D.C. United and 46 against the Seattle Sounders. After positive responses, Taylor took a pragmatic approach by sitting out the final game against the Charleston Battery.
“Yes, for sure,” Taylor said when asked if he knocked the rust off. “I got a good 70 minutes against D.C., and I was just concerned with getting injured the last game and thought it was better to sit out and get ready for the upcoming game."
Having Taylor – who put in 26 starts last year – fit will help solidify the center of Houston’s backline. And the choice of who plays next to him could be easy for the first week, with Eric Brunner battling back from an ankle injury.
Brunner and David Horst have battled for time at center back this preseason. But Brunner’s injury has kept him out of training early in the week, and his availability is up in the air in regards to Saturday. Kinnear said Tuesday it was a “race against time,” however he did not rule out his inclusion.
In addition to Brunner, Houston had a pair of midfielders miss training as well. Warren Creavalle is continuing to recover from offseason knee surgeries, and Servando Carrasco is recovering from an ankle injury he sustained against D.C. in Charleston.
Outside of the trio that missed training, Houston is optimistic about the fitness of the group as a whole heading into the season opener. It is not clear whether any of the trio will be back in time for the first game.
“It’s expected,” assistant coach Steve Ralston said Monday. “Every team’s going to face it at some point or another, and it’s why we have 20 something players on the team. Whoever the group is that we put out there on the weekend, we expect them to go out and play well.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.