The Houston Dynamo have kept a close eye on Ricardo Clark and Will Bruin since the pair came off early in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship against Sporting Kansas City two weeks ago.
Now on the day before the return leg Saturday at Sporting Park (6:30 pm CT; NBCSN, UDN), the club is still holding out hope but preparing for the worst as both are listed as questionable for the match.
Neither Clark (left knee sprain) nor Bruin (left foot sprain) has trained during the two-week break.
“It’s the same, we’re still monitoring them,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “We’re still going forward like they’re going to play, and that’s the way we’re going to treat it.”
While the optimism is there, without them on the field the Dynamo will be forced to deal with the absence of two of their best players. Bruin banged in 10 goals, including two playoff goals in the Knockout Round, and seven assists this season, while Clark’s inclusion has been accompanied with a strong defensive record.
If the pair cannot go, others on the Dynamo’s deep squad will have to answer the bell. It’s something the club has been doing all season and is ready to do once again thanks to two weeks of preparation.
“[The break has] given us some time to rest some bumps and bruises,” forward Giles Barnes said. “… They’ve been a big part of what we’ve done all year and had really good years as well. But there’s always people waiting and these are big games and people can take and seize the opportunity.”
In the past, Andrew Driver and Cam Weaver have been the first choice fill-ins and held their own while the Dynamo reshuffled. Those two still could be called upon, along with Omar Cummings, who offers another speed option and two playoff goals, up top.
“These are guys that everyone believes can do the job well,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “You look at the playoffs so far, and a guy like Omar comes off the bench and plays well. We have guys that have started and played well and guys coming off the bench and playing well.
“When a guy’s missing and we fill that gap with guys that have been successful this year and we know we can count on, then we’re not too worried about it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.