Western Conference foes FC Dallas and Portland Timbers pulled off a swap of young midfielders on Friday as both teams head into the stretch run.
Heading Portland’s way is second-year player Eric Alexander, a 23-year-old from Indiana University who played a crucial role in FCD’s run to MLS Cup as a rookie in 2010, but has been unable to lock down a regular starting job in 2011. Alexander’s been used on both the right and left side of midfield, but is primarily a two-way midfielder at home in the center of the pitch.
Alexander, who earned his first US cap in January, was losing the fight for playing time to new arrivals Andrew Jacobson, Ricardo Villar and Daniel Cruz.
Going in the other direction is Jeremy Hall, a third-year player from the University of Maryland. Hall came into the league as a left midfielder, but has played primarily as a right back and right midfielder in his three years as a pro. The first two of those years were spent with the Red Bulls before he was traded to Portland for a third-round pick in the 2011 SuperDraft.
Hall, who has three assists on the season, had a good May and June, locking down the right side as the Timbers turned JELD-WEN Field into a fortress, but as summer arrived so did a dip in form for both himself and the team.
FC Dallas (12-6-7, 43 points) sit second in the Supporters' Shield race, while Portland (7-12-5, 26 points) are seventh in the West, five points out of the last playoff spot.