With focus directed toward club success, FC Dallas' Blas Perez primed for breakout season

Blas Perez, FC Dallas

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USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas – If there is one FC Dallas player primed for a breakout year in 2014, one need look no further than Blas Pérez.

With national team obligations set to be negligible this season, the Panamanian striker is in prime position to exceed his MLS career-best 25 appearances (21 as a starter) from last season.

“It’s going to be a very interesting season,” Pérez told MLSsoccer.com through an interpreter Thursday. “I missed a lot of games last year because I had to go to the national team. But looking at this season, there’s not going to be a lot of traveling, there’s not going to be a lot of national team call-ups. … I am very excited and hope I can stay healthy, contribute to the team and play well.”

Pérez has averaged a goal for every two games he’s started during his two-year MLS career. If he makes an additional 10 to 12 starts in 2014, it is fair to expect he could put up a tally in the range of 15 to 18 goals. Pérez, however, said his only focus is on the team’s success as a whole.

“I’m not concerned about personal goals or anything like that, but I want to go to the playoffs,” he said. “Getting the team to the playoffs, getting the team to win, of course I’ll score all the goals I can score. But it’s very important for the team to get to the playoffs.”

Pérez was often counted on to carry the offensive load under former coach Schellas Hyndman, but he said that new boss Oscar Pareja’s system brings a lot more fluidity to the attack. He said additions such as Andrés Escobar, Danny Garcia and David Texeira will all be headaches for opposing defenses and provide “a lot of opportunities for people to talk about [us] this season.”

Pérez has also clearly worked on is his English during the offseason. He understands and speaks conversational English but is not quite confident enough to fully express himself to the media in his second tongue.  But he said it is a goal of his to someday conduct interviews in English.

“I feel that I’m growing step-by-step, it is getting better,” Pérez said. “It’s great to see the younger players looking at you and trying to copy the way that you work and the way that you approach the game. Same when you see veteran players following part of what you are setting as an example in the locker room. It makes you feel good. On the English-speaking side, I am trying to just get a little bit better everyday.”

But when asked if he has any predictions for the 2014 season, Pérez answered firmly in English without waiting for his interpreter: “Playoffs.”