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Squad taking shape as preseason cuts loom in Dallas

Schellas Hyndman and John Ellinger

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of FC Dallas

FRISCO, Texas – There was little significance tied to FC Dallas’ 5-1 exhibition victory against the University of Tulsa on Saturday. But for many of the club’s trialists and fringe players, Saturday represented a golden opportunity to make an impression on the club’s coaching staff.

Though training camp has been in motion for nearly five weeks, less than a week remains for many of the roster hopefuls to make their case. Roster decisions are expected in advance of the team’s trip to the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Friday.

“You have to be roster compliant by the first of March, so I think decisions will have to be made by Friday,” assistant coach John Ellinger told MLSsoccer.com following Saturday’s match. “There won’t really be trialists when we go down to Florida. I think we’ll pretty much have our squad with maybe room for one or two players.”

Among those fighting for a roster spot are forwards Dogba and Scott Sealy, both of whom scored against Tulsa. Sealy, who netted two second-half goals on Saturday, knows the pressure is on but refuses to let it affect his game.

“You can’t worry about it,” said Sealy. “It’s over your head. Obviously, you want to do well and get a contract, but you can’t play like that – tentative and not wanting to make mistakes.”

Players will have one final opportunity to shine on Wednesday, though possibly against their most challenging opponent yet. The team will take on the US Under-23s, who will travel to Frisco for a 10-day training camp beginning Sunday. The young squad features MLS talents such as Juan Agudelo and Zarek Valentin, as well as a number of overseas players. FC Dallas must also deal with a familiar name in a talented American midfielder by the name of Brek Shea.

“They're a good team – a lot of young, talented players from MLS and overseas,” said Sealy. “They’re going to be strong and fast, and have a lot of guys that are good with the ball technically. It’s going to be a good game.”

Ellinger is excited to see Dallas match up against the U-23s, and particularly against Shea. But all eyes will be on those who are still fighting to remain with the squad as the preseason nears its end. After all, a big performance against elite talent might do wonders for those on the bubble.

“If a guy can step up and play well against a team like the U-23s, that will go a long way in helping that individual,” said Ellinger. “It will be fresh in [manager Schellas Hyndman’s] mind when making the decision.”

Sealy, however, said he isn’t dwelling on the possibility of leaving the club on Friday. After playing seven years in MLS, he knows every day, game or practice is equally critical.

 “I just play and try to do my thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, if it’s good enough, I’ll be here. If not, I’ll try somewhere else.”