Coming off a stretch of six games in 17 days, the Houston Dynamo are dealing with their share of bumps and bruises. When the team returned to training after a three-day break on Wednesday, two players were noticeable for their absence: Will Bruin and Ricardo Clark.
According to head coach Dominic Kinnear, the pair was working with the trainers during the week’s first session after leaving Saturday's Eastern Conference Championship first leg with injuries -- a "left leg" injury for Clark and an undisclosed injury for Bruin, who left the locker room on Saturday with a boot on his left foot.
Two of Houston’s most trusted regulars, Clark and Bruin have a week and a half to heal until the second leg against Sporting Kansas City on Nov. 23 (6:30 p.m. CT; NBCSN). With the series tied 0-0 on aggregate, the Dynamo are keen to make full use of that time and get their leading forward and midfield boss back in the lineup.
“We’re going through this as if they’re going to play,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told the media. “They’re not training, they’re working with the staff and we’ll see how they are closer to the game. If they’re not available to play, we’re OK with that. It’s not wonderful news, but that’s the way it goes.
“We’ve still got some bangs and bruises from the game,” Kinnear said. “We’re dealing with those guys and trying our best to get them as much rest to be available for the game so we’ll see how it goes.”
Monitoring Bruin and Clark will be at the top of the priority list for Kinnear in the next 10 days. If the pair cannot go, the Dynamo have an alternative blueprint.
Losing both players in the middle of Saturday’s game, Kinnear moved his pieces around to cope. Andrew Driver came in to relieve the midfield, pushing Brad Davis into the middle in place of Clark in the first half. After Bruin’s halftime exit, Houston inserted Cam Weaver, who took up the mantle of bruising forward against KC’s physical center backs.
Those players, along with first-leg starter Omar Cummings and regular-season scoring leader Giles Barnes, could be called upon again if Bruin or Clark are hampered by injury. And thanks to the schedule, which allowed for a two-week break between matches given the FIFA international fixture dates, Kinnear and his charges have time to prepare for those possibilities.
“You always prepare yourself because you never know what can happen,” Weaver said on Wednesday. “You never know what can happen during games. Guys get injured and you want to be prepared when your number’s called. You always have to be ready no matter what.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.