Home Grown Leyva eyes first-team opportunites at Dallas

FRISCO, Texas — Saturday was a night of firsts for FC Dallas and Bryan Leyva at Pizza Hut Park.

Not only did FC Dallas become the first team to score two goals against the Philadelphia Union this season, but also Leyva joined the 18-man roster for the first time in 2011.

Leyva, 19, joined fellow Home Grown players Ruben Luna and Moises Hernandez on the 18-man game-day roster in a move that gave the FCD bench an average age of 21.

“It felt great,” Leyva told MLSsoccer.com on Monday after the team’s regeneration session. “It makes us very, very happy and it motivates us to continue working hard and keep being on the 18. It’s tough with everyone doing so good but it’s always good to be out there.”

Leyva, a 5-foot-5 midfielder from Mexico, was the first Home Grown player signed by FC Dallas, inking a contract in 2009. He had his first professional experience against the LA Galaxy on May 20, 2010, playing 13 minutes.  

Thus far in 2011, Leyva has been taking advantage of the reborn MLS Reserve League. In the first game of the season against Real Salt Lake, Leyva blasted a goal from distance en route to a 2-0 victory. In a game against the Laredo Heat, a PDL side, Leyva notched another goal. His on-field contributions have helped the FC Dallas reserves maintain their undefeated record through two games.

“When I got signed I didn’t have many games,” said Leyva, “and now there’s the reserve league and it’s very good for not just me but for my teammates, and 90 minutes is very important for us as players.”

Saturday’s call-up to the senior squad was also a timely one in Leyva’s life.

“I have a little daughter, Eleni, and she was born three weeks ago," Leyva said. "I’m very happy for that extra motivation in my life.”

On the field Leyva’s skills are unquestioned. Head coach Schellas Hyndman spoke of his eagerness to attack and also compared him favorably to a certain league MVP.

“He’s got good vision, good touch, he’s got a good sense and he can put himself into good positions,” Hyndman said. “Players like him who don’t have a lot of size and strength, they have to find ways of competing. David Ferreira is the perfect example. David’s body is completely strong and solid and he can take the physical abuse. Bryan has to adjust a little bit with the physical play.”

And while Leyva didn’t make an appearance Saturday night, it wasn’t due to his lack of preparation.

“It’s just a lot of motivation for me seeing my name up there, so I prepared as if I was going to go in and mentally and physically I felt ready for it," he said. "Hopefully, if I get the chance, I can take advantage of it.”