After impressing during the second half of last season, when D.C. United brought him over from Germany, Russell Canouse had hopes for himself and the Black-and-Red coming into 2018. The season has not been so kind to United thus far, and same goes for Canouse, who has yet to feature for the team this year due to a knee injury suffered during the preseason’s opening stages.
But with a week off, there’s no game for Canouse to miss this weekend. Next up for United is hosting Columbus Crew SC next Saturday, a game being played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. On Thursday, the team practiced at the stadium to get a feel for the artificial turf. Canouse, along with Junior Moreno and Oniel Fisher, worked on the side, but according to their head coach, all three are set to return to full practice at the beginning of next week.
“They are moving in the right direction to be in full training on Monday,” Olsen told B&RU on Thursday, while not committing to whether or not the trio would be available against the Crew. “We will get them back into a full session on Monday, and take off the training wheels, and see how they look.”
While Moreno and Fisher were able to participate in preseason, and played several MLS games, Canouse has had no such luxury this year. An injury ruled him out of the first preseason game in Florida, against Malmo. What was thought to be a short term injury has turned into a two month absence for Canouse.
But now, Canouse seems close to his return. For the past couple of weeks, he has worked on the side during United practices, improving his fitness and making sure there are no relapses with his knee.
“It’s been a long road so far, but I think I’m getting back to where I want to be,” Canouse told B&RU on Thursday.
With Canouse on the sideline, United has missed his presence on the field in 2018. Moreno, who was brought in during the winter, started the first three games, but went off injured with his own hamstring injury against the Houston Dynamo. Chris Durkin has started in that role in the past two games, and may do so against next weekend, depending on how much progress Moreno and Canouse make.
Having no way of making an impact on the field so far this season has tested Canouse’s patience.
“It’s very frustrating to me, watching, and not be able to go out on the field and make an impact,” said Canouse. “I set some personal goals for myself, and the team had set high expectations going into the new season.”
Yet, despite the fact that United is winless to start the season, there are still 29 games to play. Plenty of time to right the ship, plenty of time for Canouse to make an impact on the field. And if he doesn’t make his season debut next weekend, United have another week off, before traveling to face the Philadelphia Union on April 28th.
And though neither Canouse nor Olsen would commit to the midfielder’s availability against the Crew, or whether or not the turf in Annapolis would affect any decision, Canouse has only one thing on mind right now.
“I am trying to focus on getting back healthy,” said the midfielder. ‘So that when I am on the field, I can make the impact I did before.”