Hoops coping with compact schedule

While one of their fellow Western Conference teams, Chivas USA, has already had two open dates so far this season, FC Dallas is currently in the midst of playing three games in eight days. On Saturday, the Hoops traveled to Houston to face Dynamo and came away with their first loss of the year, a 4-3 setback.

But FCD won't have much time to dwell on Saturday's result as next up are the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy, who visit Pizza Hut Park on Wednesday evening. Just three days later, Dynamo make a return trip to Frisco for a Saturday afternoon clash of teams from the Lone Star State, which will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

Even with such a tough stretch, Hoops head coach Colin Clarke isn't worried.

"We knew this was going to be tough spell with Kansas City at home, going to D.C. United, traveling to Houston and being home for L.A., Houston and New England," he said. "It (Kansas City, D.C. United and Houston) was a tough run of games. Now we have to bounce back from Saturday."

Even coming off the club's first loss of 2006, Clarke is still happy with how the season has progressed.

"With one defeat in six games, we're still happy with how things are going," he said. "We've got a good stretch of home games coming up and have to take advantage of those."

He also knows that this stretch is where his team's depth will be a valuable asset.

"We've said all along that we've got a good, deep squad," he said. "Everybody is fit and healthy. That gives us the opportunity to put fresh bodies on the field as often as we can. It makes for some tough decisions. But we have two games coming up and need to take them one game at a time."

Defender Drew Moor, who has now started the last three games at center back and scored his first MLS goal last week against Houston, agrees with his coach.

"Our depth is where we're going to show how good we are," he said. "Obviously three games in eight days is tough. But when you have the players we have all over the field, the depth we have and the players we have to choose from, maybe it's not as difficult as it might be for some teams.

"I'm sure people will get chances that haven't had chances lately or so far this season to start games or to come on and perform well," he added. "There's no doubt they will because we have a good team from number one through 28."

Midfielder Ramon Nunez, who also found the back of the net at Houston for his first goal of the year, offers a similar assessment.

"It's going to be tough (playing three games in eight days) especially with the heat," he said. "We have so much depth on the team. Anyone that steps on the field can do the job for us. That's definitely a plus for any team. We're just lucky to have that from every single guy."

If there is a silver lining in this streak for FCD, it is that the final two games of the week are both home contests, where they are a perfect 3-0 this season. They will close out a run of three consecutive games at home on Saturday, May 20, when New England visits Pizza Hut Park before hitting the road to face New York and then coming home for another run of three in a row at home.

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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