FRISCO, Texas – Raúl Fernández is back from Peruvian national team duty, but is he still the starting goalkeeper for FC Dallas? Chris Seitz was rock solid in his absence, the latest twist in what Schellas Hyndman has said is a continuing competition for the No. 1 spot.
“That’s a battle that started the day that Raúl arrived,” FCD's head coach told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “Chris was tremendous in preseason and he’s had a very strong focus in his preparation for the season. He’s lost some body weight, his body fat percentage is the best that it’s been, so he’s done everything he possibly can to be that No. 1 'keeper.”
Newcomer Fernández (above) started the first three games of the season, but after a shutout in the season opener against Colorado, he gave up five goals in the next two matches against Chivas USA and Houston.
Seitz, meanwhile, had his first opportunity last weekend against Real Salt Lake while Fernández was with Peru. RSL admittedly were a depleted team, missing multiple starters to international duty, but the defense looked strong and Seitz kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 FCD win.
Based on form and Fernández’s long travel, Hyndman suggested earlier this week that Seitz would again get the start on Saturday against New England (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online), but that was before an exhausted Seitz was sent home from practice on Wednesday after his fiancée gave birth to their new daughter, Deklyn Rose, at 3 am on Tuesday morning.
Seitz returned to practice on Thursday, but Fernández had the majority of the playing time with the first team both days. Regardless, says Hyndman, the Peruvian isn't all the way there yet as he's still adapting to life in America – both off the pitch and on it.
“Raúl is making every effort to continue to learn English,” Hyndman explained. “Right now, we’re really trying to take him through a crash course in ‘soccer English.’ We’re not interested in teaching him how to order a meal.”
In the meantime, Hyndman doesn’t mind dealing with the problem of having two starting-quality netminders to push each other. But he admits that can’t last indefinitely.
“At some point in time, you have to decide who your No. 1 'keeper is,” he said. “It brings continuity to the team, it brings coordination and it brings an understanding back there.”