FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas have found ways to work around just about every missing piece in this injury-riddled 2012 season, but there’s one player that the team has proven they can’t cope without: Panamanian forward Blas Pérez.
The brilliance of “Super Raton” was on full display in the early part of the season as Pérez had three goals and three assists through the first six games, leaving Dallas with a respectable 3-2-1 record. He was even hotter in May, scoring two goals in three games for FC Dallas, as well as a couple spectacular strikes for Panama in World Cup qualifying.
But an ankle injury picked up in the 1-0 victory over Cuba has sidelined Pérez for the past month, leaving Dallas without any answers for whom to start up front. His absence has never been more evident than Saturday night’s scoreless draw with San Jose.
“The fact we don't have a replacement for Blas is more important [than the other injuries],” head coach Schellas Hyndman told reporters after Saturday’s game. “We went with Brek [Shea] up front tonight because he's our best option, but you can also see he's a little stuck behind reading what's going on.”
As a result, Hyndman has been forced into trying a couple different options at forward in Pérez’s absence, first opting for Scott Sealy and more recently sending Shea out as the target forward. But neither option has proved to be capable of giving Dallas what the coach wants from the position.
“I think Brek’s doing a great job,” midfielder Andrew Jacobson said of the current forward situation. “He’s active, but I don’t think it’s his best position. I think we just need a finisher, and if we had Blas right now, we’d be a very dangerous team.”
Jacobson certainly has a point, as the Dallas defense has allowed just one goal in the last three games. Shutouts tend to lead to wins, but just one goal from three home games has left Dallas with little to take away, leaving most to wonder how much closer FCD would be to a playoff spot had Pérez been on the field for the home stand.
All one has to do to see Blas’ impact on the Dallas offense is look at the numbers.
In the 12 games Pérez has played 90 minutes, FCD have been shut out just once while averaging 1.16 goals a game. In the six games the Panamanian has missed, Dallas have just three goals and a 0-2-4 record.
“Some strikers just have a nose for the ball,” Hyndman told reporters after Saturday’s game. “They always seem to find a way to get to it. You can see the way Blas scored two goals for Panama. He's that kind of a player. Without a true striker, this team will kind of tease you. They will get there and either make it or not make it.”