FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas's defensive injury troubles don't look like they'll be solved anytime soon.
Both center back mainstay George John and rookie sensation Walker Zimmerman are questionable to play in Thursday night’s Independence Day match at FC Dallas Stadium against Chivas USA (9 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
John and Zimmerman are each nursing hamstring injuries and did not train on Wednesday. This creates a likely opening for veteran Stephen Keel to get his first start for Dallas, lining up alongside Matt Hedges.
“[Hedges and I] seem to have good chemistry in the little bit of time we’ve had together,” Keel told MLSsoccer.com after training on Wednesday. “I think he reads me and understands how I play. I’ve watched him and seen what he likes to do and what he’s comfortable with."
Keel has logged only one minute of playing time since signing with FCD this past offseason. But if the former New York Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids man, he is confident the defense won't be disrupted too much, especially give the fact that Zach Loyd -- who missed last weekend's draw in Philadelphia and is still listed as questionable -- participated fully in practice.
Coach Schellas Hyndman would not confirm if Keel would be playing, but did say he was likely to be in line for action if neither John nor Zimmerman could go. Keel says he’s excited about the potential opportunity to get playing time and contribute to the team on the field, particularly given the reputation July 4th games have in Dallas.
“I’ve heard nothing but July 4th games are always sold out and awesome, fireworks and all that jazz," the defender said. "It should be a great environment, a worthy opponent and hopefully a great game.”