Alston, Soares set for Wednesday returns

TUCSON, Ariz. – Both Kevin Alston and A.J. Soares are expected to make their Desert Diamond Cup debuts on Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake after being held out of the competition’s first two matches for precautionary reasons.

Alston had been slowed in recent days by a minor right calf strain, while Soares has been recovering from a tweak in his right knee. Neither injury was considered serious, but the training staff employed a cautious approach with next weekend’s season opener against the San Jose Earthquakes at the forefront of their consciousness.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Alston said of his ailment. “It was just one of those things where it was so close to the start of the season that you don’t want to rush. The last thing you want to do is rush it and prolong it or re-injure it. I was focused on just making sure I was healthy before getting back on the field as opposed to maybe being almost there and trying to push through that last bit of it. I just wanted to be healthy 100 percent first.”

Both players eased back into full training sessions throughout the course of the past week and spent additional time after practice working with strength and conditioning coach Nick Downing, who worked not only on aiding the duo’s return to health but also maintaining their fitness levels while sidelined from game action.

“I feel really good,” Soares said after Tuesday morning’s training session. “I’ve been doing a lot of treatment, a lot of exercises to strengthen the body and I feel awesome. I feel ready to go.

“The thing with this injury which was fortunate was I could still run,” added Soares. “The running wasn’t a problem, so I’ve been doing a lot of extra fitness. My fitness level might’ve increased, actually, because I was doing a lot of running after practice with Nick Downing. But I feel good. Just get a couple game minutes in and I’ll be fully sharp.”

Those minutes should arrive on Wednesday night as both Alston and Soares get their first chance to play against MLS opposition in 2012. It’s an opportunity both have been anxiously anticipating while watching the first two matches of the Desert Diamond Cup from the sidelines.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Alston. “It’s always fun to play in games like that and since it’s still preseason, those are the games you want to get so you can get ready for the season.”

“I’m always itching to get out there on the field, especially with how well we’ve been playing,” added Soares. “I’m just really excited to be out there. I want to get out there and get some competition outside of the team because when you’re going against the same guys every day, you need to get out there and play somebody else. I’m definitely pumped about that.”