Hoops aiming to make strong return

Nearly a month ago, FC Dallas got their first road win of the season with a 2-1 decision against the New York Red Bulls at Giants Stadium. After that win came a 10-day layoff before their next match on June 3 against Columbus at Pizza Hut Park.

The Hoops came out flat against the Crew and lost 2-1 in their first home loss of the year. On Saturday, they will face Colorado at Pizza Hut Park after a 13-day layoff since a 2-1 win against Chivas USA on June 11.

Foremost on the minds of FCD players and coaches is avoiding a repeat of their performance against Columbus. Head coach Colin Clarke knows getting a good result against the Rapids is crucial, as Saturday's game marks their first of five contests in the next two weeks.

"We've touched on that (avoiding a repeat of what happened against Columbus)," Clarke said. "We have five games in the next 15 days. It's a tough stretch going to New England and then across (the country) to L.A., so it would be nice to start that off with a home win (against Colorado on Saturday)."

Clarke added that his team's great depth will be a valuable tool during the grueling stretch as nearly everyone who was ailing earlier in the month is now healthy and ready to go.

"We know we're healthy for the most part and that's important because we're going to need all those bodies during that stretch," he said. "We've done well at home and it's a foe that we've matched up with a couple of times in the playoffs. It's an important game for us."

Also focused on delivering a better result on Saturday are Clarke's players.

"We've talked all year long about learning lessons from our mistakes," said veteran midfielder Richard Mulrooney. "That was a mistake we made against Columbus. We came out soft, didn't play with any heart and weren't able to come off the field looking eye-to-eye with our teammates because we knew we didn't give it our all. This is chance to make it up and see if we learned from that."

Striker Kenny Cooper, who has five goals this season, his first in MLS, also thinks the Hoops won't repeat their poor performance against the Crew.

"We didn't have the best result against Columbus after some time off, so we do want to put that right," Cooper said. "We've got a big stretch of games coming up and need to stay focused."

Mulrooney feels that when a team plays badly like FCD did against Columbus, it is up to each and every player to right their respective ships.

"When those mistakes happen, it's up to us to correct them or we're going to continuously get beaten," Mulrooney said. "Whether you're a rookie or a veteran, you know that you have to come out with some intensity or we are going to get beat again."

Cooper stressed that strong preparation by the Hoops during their layoff is what will help them avoid coming out flat against the Rapids on Saturday.

"We had a great week of practice last week and really put the work in before the weekend," he said. "We came back focused, which is important and have had a great three days of training already. We've had a great start already this season and want to continue that."

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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