Injuries, suspension, schedule congestion: FC Dallas up against it at start of busy stretch

FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas is facing a series of challenges going into Sunday’s game against the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Stadium (3 pm ET; UniMas), but this is not the first time this season and the team plans on leaning once again on its depth to overcome those challenges.

The combination of injuries and suspensions to a host of regular starters and schedule congestion is never a good one for an MLS club, and Dallas is facing all three in a seven day span. Included in the list of injured or suspended players are Mauro Diaz, Kellyn Acosta, George John, Zach Loyd and Michel, all of whom have been a regulars for the team at some point either this year or in previous years.

But performances in big moments by players like Moises Hernandez and Victor Ulloa in big games give FCD coaches and players alike confidence that those players, and some new ones, can help fill holes over this challenging stretch.

“We know that when they come in, nothing is going to happen differently,” said team captain Matt Hedges. “Whoever is in there, the job will get done.”

Hernandez played in the league opener, a 3-2 win over Montreal, and Ulloa played in the match in the March 29th match against the Portland Timbers. In both situations, it was their first MLS start at a time when they were not expected to start.

“It’s an opportunity for people like Victor, like Moises, like Danny [Garcia], Ryan [Hollingshead], Tesho [Akindele], the guys who came back from injury,” said FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja. “This is a beautiful chance for them to play and how deep we are has to be proven.”

With all of the absences, and based on Pareja’s comments over the past few days, any player on the roster is a distinct possibility during this stretch of games, including the previously mentioned Garcia, as well as MLS All-Star goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.

 “Victor and Moises told me to just stay calm. Just make easy passes to get your confidence up and it will be easier from there,” Garcia said after practice Friday. “It gives me confidence knowing they are going out there and doing a good job – there’s no way I don’t see myself doing a great job just as they are.”

Fernandez said he was glad to overcome his pre-season injury issues and is looking forward to getting back into the lineup.

“I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish out last season, but I have a new excitement to play again.”

To successfully navigate the next seven days, Pareja will probably need many of those players, and probably more, to contribute significant minutes in the next three games.