FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With this weekend’s home opener against D.C. United looming, the New England Revolution is set to receive a boost from the expected returns of Kevin Alston and Didier Domi.
Alston (L hamstring strain) and Domi (R knee swelling) both missed last Sunday’s season-opening 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy through injury, but the duo returned to full training this week and head coach Steve Nicol is confident they’ll be ready for Saturday’s tilt with D.C.
“They joined in fully again [Thursday] morning and there have been no adverse effects,” he said. “They’ll be available for selection (this weekend).”
It marks the culmination of an extensive recovery for Alston, who strained his hamstring just 10 minutes into the Revolution’s first preseason game against the University of Central Florida on Feb. 18. After beginning his rehab slowly with a progressive increase in jogging and agility drills, Alston participated fully in training for the first time on Wednesday.
While Alston must still be vigilant with his oft-injured hamstring, he’s responded well to the initial workouts.
“I’ve felt alright,” he said. “I’ve been running for a couple weeks so I think (now) it’s just getting back up to speed, but it’s felt good. I still think I have a ways to go, but I’m working on it.
“I think it’s positive on multiple fronts,” Alston said of his potential return. “I think it helps boost confidence as I try to get comfortable with playing again and I think this could give me an opportunity. I don’t know what the coach’s decision will be, but I’ll be available and we’ll see how it goes.”
Meanwhile, Domi’s MLS debut has been delayed by swelling in his right knee, a persistent issue which prompted the Revs to send the veteran defender home from the club’s preseason trip to Georgia for further treatment. With the swelling now in check, Domi is looking forward to debuting at Gillette Stadium in front of the home fans.
“I was feeling nothing (in the knee) when I was playing, it was just swelling a bit,” said Domi. “It’s still a bit (swollen), but it doesn’t hurt, so we keep going … I’m feeling good now.
“[My debut] could be at home now, which would be even better,” he added. “Hopefully, we can get a win.”
While Alston and Domi will be available this weekend, central midfielder Ousmane Dabo could have to wait one more week before making his debut. The 34-year-old Frenchman strained his right quad during his second day of training with the Revs on March 1 and has been working feverishly to recover ever since.
Dabo’s efforts have paid dividends as he joined his teammates for much of Thursday’s training session, but the club is still being cautious and he hasn’t yet participated in a full workout.
“He’s being careful,” said Nicol. “Obviously when you [injure] your thigh muscle like that you’re kind of wary, because if you do it again, then it’s an even longer process. We’re being careful with it, but obviously we’d like to have him available.”
According to Chris Tierney – who filled in for Domi at left back in the season opener against the Galaxy – a fully healthy squad will be vital as the Revs aim for consistency from week to week.
“This will be the first weekend with Kevin and Didier back and I think Dabo’s on his way back to fitness, as well,” he said. “The more guys we can get back, the deeper our squad will become and the better we’ll be. It’s a good thing.”