Eric Hassli behind on fitness, but could make substitute cameo in Dallas opener
FRISCO, Texas – New FC Dallas forward Eric Hassli was absent from training on Wednesday morning in Frisco, but the club is still optimistic that he can play some part in Saturday’s season opener against Colorado (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“We hope so,” Schellas Hyndman said when asked if Hassli will be a substitute on Saturday. “Right now we’re just going with some evaluations. He saw a chiropractor, got a little bit of work done and feels a lot better. It’s just that he went quite a while without training.”
Since joining the club from Toronto FC in early February, Hassli has only featured in low-intensity friendlies and his fitness levels remain a few weeks behind the rest of the squad. FC Dallas opted not to play the Frenchman in any of their three preseason games in Portland, choosing to put Hassli through rigorous two-a-day sessions designed to get his fitness levels up to regular season standards.
“Toronto was looking to move him, so they weren’t having him train with the team so he’d probably gone a good two-and-a-half months [without training],” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com. “I think it’s normal to have a little bit of a strain or soreness in the body when you haven’t done a lot of training.”
Normally, FCD would be well set to cope with the absence of Hassli with Blas Pérez and Kenny Cooper able to hold down the front line, but Pérez is suspended for the first two games of the season after an elbowing incident in the club’s final game of 2012.
In a move that could prove an experiment for the season opener, Hyndman went with Cooper and Fabián Castillo up front in Saturday’s preseason finale against San Jose. It was a move that yielded mostly positive returns as the speedy winger provided a nice complement to Cooper’s more physical play.
“That was a really pleasant surprise,” said Hyndman. “Fabián has continued to improve … the thing I didn’t expect was how well he worked on both sides of the ball. That’s something we’ve kept talking to him about.”
If Hassli is unable to go on Saturday, Hyndman will likely be left with Homegrown forwards Bradlee Baladez and Jonathan Top as his choices off the bench while a move back to the 4-5-1 isn’t out of the question as a late-game tactic as well.