FRISCO, Texas – Mexican Under-20 national team goalkeeper Richard Sanchez returned this past week to FC Dallas from his successful loan stint with the NASL’s Ft. Lauderdale Strikers glowing with the experience of first-team minutes. And all things being equal, he'd prefer to stick around for good.
“I know for me to be ready to be on the [Dallas] roster, I have to keep working hard and try to progress on certain things day by day,” the 19-year-old told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday. “Come 2014, I do have the goal set in mind to be on that 18-man roster, so I’ll be working hard for that.”
The Los Angeles native logged 1,460 minutes and posted a 1.43 goals-against average in 14 games for the second-division Strikers – one more game than FC Dallas' Reserve League team played all season. He also set Ft. Lauderdale’s team mark with 352 consecutive shutout minutes, which fell just seven minutes shy of the NASL record.
“It was definitely a good experience there for me,” he said. “It benefited me in the aspect of getting minutes and … I was able to get into different [game] situations that are different from just training. I was able to be more involved in the game, and I learned from both good and bad situations I was able to come through.”
The 19-year-old Homegrown player believes that the MLS plan for teams to build alliances with USL PRO clubs or even field their own teams in the third-tier league is an important step for player development as they will play far more games in the lower-league structure than in the current Reserve League set-up.
He'd be open to another loan next season, although his first priority is to put pressure on the goalkeepers above him in FC Dallas' depth chart.
“We get along very well,” Sanchez said of his relationship with Raúl Fernández, Chris Seitz and Kyle Zobeck. “… We support one another, we always help one another with whatever it is we see that each is doing wrong. It’s a situation where the good competitiveness with the four of us helps us to get better and helps the team out.”
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A longer-term goal of the 2011 U-17 World Cup winner is to compete for Mexico's No. 1 'keeper slot on the senior team. But he knows the only way he’ll get to that point is if he proves himself at the club level first.
“That’s one of my goals to accomplish," he said, "but in order for me to get there, I need to work hard, earn a spot here in Dallas and progress from there."