The Houston Dynamo got a positive sign Friday with Ricardo Clark back in training.
The combative midfielder was listed as questionable, along with winger Tony Cascio (right knee sprain) and center back Eric Brunner (right ankle), on the team-issued injury report, due to what he termed was a mild left knee sprain. But on Friday the midfielder was on the field with his teammates and reported no ill effects from the session.
“The knee’s good for the most part,” Clark told MLSsoccer.com. “Took a couple of days off to let it heal…Today I felt good out there, so hopefully tomorrow’s good also.”
Added head coach Dominic Kinnear: “He seems to be fine. He trained today so that’s the good thing.”
The injury occurred in the second half of last week’s 4-0 win over the New England Revolution. Clark could not pinpoint when the injury took place, but said it started bothering him towards the end of the contest.
The US World Cup veteran earned a unique assist in the win as his shot from distance ricocheted off Omar Cummings' head and into goal. It was part of a night where Houston throttled the Revs and Clark formed a pairing with fellow World Cup veteran Boniek García that drew positive reviews.
If Clark can go against the Impact on Saturday (7:30 p.m. CT, TICKETS), he will likely encounter a feisty opponent after what happened the last time the two met, a 3-0 Dynamo win in the 2013 Eastern Conference Knockout Round.
While the Dynamo may have the services of their star box-to-box presence, Montreal will be missing their star as Marco Di Vaio, along with Andres Romero, serves a suspension as extra punishment for red cards received in a late game fracas with Corey Ashe and the Dynamo in that playoff game last year.
“I think he’s one of the smartest and best finishers in the league, so if you’re asking me if I’m glad Di Vaio’s not playing, then yeah, he’s really good at playing soccer,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “He makes their team better. I don’t feel bad at all that he’s being punished for his actions and we play a Montreal without Di Vaio. That’s fine with me and I think he deserved what he got.”
While the Dynamo players played down the importance of that game this week, they know that the Impact will come in fired up.
“I don't really think the way the game finished, the scuffle or whatever in the corner, I don't think that has anything to do with Saturday's game,” said Hall. “I think the fact that we knocked them out, not so much the fight in the corner, will be probably extra motivation for them. It would be for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.