After a nearly six-week absence, Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo returned to the Toyota Park practice pitch Tuesday, training in full for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury on September 12 in a 2-1 win at Toronto FC.
Having appeared in all 27 of the team's regular season matches to that point, the injury setback kept the former Mexican international out of the team’s 3-1 victory over Montreal three days later.
Returning to practice that Monday, Pardo strained his left calf and remained listed as Questionable on the team’s injury report through last week.
“I feel good,” said Pardo following training Tuesday. “Always it’s good to be on the field with the whole team and training at 100 per cent. I’m happy to be coming back and hopefully I’m fully ready to play on Saturday.”
Both Daniel Paladini and Alex filled in next to Logan Pause as the team went 3-3-0 in Pardo’s absence.
In those losses to Sporting KC, Philadelphia and New England, the veteran midfielder’s calming presence in breaking up attacks and distribution was missed at times.
“It’s always hard when you have injuries,” he said. “I’m used to always being on the field, so having this during a time when the team was still fighting for playoff position was difficult to deal with.”
Still, after not having played in six weeks, Fire head coach Frank Klopas wasn’t ready to confirm Pardo as a starter for Saturday’s regular season finale against D.C. saying only, “[Today] was training so it was good. We’ll see tomorrow, we’ll see everyday how he progresses.”
If Pardo is able to go, it would provide a boost for a Fire team that needs a victory to lock down the number two seed in the Eastern Conference.
A loss or draw would leave the side needing help to ensure it doesn’t fall down to fourth or fifth position as the MLS postseason opens next Wednesday.
“For us there isn’t pressure,” said Pardo about Saturday's match. “It’s very exciting to play at home with a full stadium. I like games that are important like this -- I think it brings more out of good players. I have confidence in the team that we’re going to play well on Saturday and have a desire to win.”
WATCH: Pardo buries free kick vs. Vancouver (7/14/2012)