FRISCO, Texas – The center of midfield is no place for the faint of heart in most Major League Soccer, and Saturday’s game between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live) should be no exception, particularly after Whitecaps midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker sent a verbal volley down south.
“I’ll make sure if they’re going to go down, they go down for a good reason,” Reo-Coker boasted earlier this week when asked by Canadian media about Dallas players possibly diving.
FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman was complimentary of Reo-Coker’s game, but he didn’t mince words when responding to his comments.
“Players say things and a lot of it is b.s., a lot of it is mental warfare and intimidation before the game starts," Hyndman contended. "I’ll leave it in this way: He can do whatever he’s going to do. The loudest noise in the world is silence, and obviously he doesn’t know that.”
FCD playmaker David Ferreira had his ankle broken almost exactly two years ago on a very hard tackle by former Vancouver defender Jonathan Leathers. This season, Ferreira is once again the most heavily fouled player in the league, but he laughed off concerns that he’d be targeted for hard fouls by his opponents.
“My whole career ... I’ve always been a heavily fouled player everywhere I’ve played. I’m used to it,” Ferreira explained through an interpreter. “I understand that my opponents can’t give me a lot of space because if they do, I’ll use that to hurt their team.”
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Midfielder Andrew Jacobson admitted that Reo-Coker will make winning balls in the midfield a difficult task, but was dismissive of the Barclay’s Premier League veteran’s remarks.
“What he does is up to him,” Jacobson told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Friday. “What we’re focusing on is what we do as a team, not what another player says or how he plays. We’re not worried too much about what other people say before a game, we do our talking on the field.”
In contrast to Reo-Coker’s tough talk, however, Vancouver have committed the fewest fouls in MLS thus far this season. But with the two teams turning right around and facing each other in Vancouver a week from Saturday's game, there will be plenty of time for them to build up a bit of animosity.